Does Massage Work for Fibromyalgia?


Massage therapy has been used thousands of years as a healing method. Its origins date back to ancient India where it was used as ayurvedic medicine. Today, people seek massage therapy for a variety of reasons: treating back pain, neck pain, anxiety, strains, headaches, injuries, and even conditions such as fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a disorder that involves widespread pain, tenderness, fatigue, and other symptoms. This condition can interfere with a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. An estimated 5 million American adults have fibromyalgia where the majority of sufferers are women.

fibromyalgia and massageIn addition to pain and fatigue, people with fibromyalgia may have other symptoms: sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, headaches, painful menstrual periods, numbness or tingling of the extremities, restless legs syndrome and more. Unfortunately, the cause of this disorder is not yet clear and there is no specific test for it. A doctor will rely on a patients symptoms in order to make a diagnosis. As far as treatment goes for managing, there are a few FDA approved drugs as well as alternative therapy.

One such popular, non-invasive treatment is massage. A 2014 systematic review of the effectiveness of massage therapy for fibromyalgia patients. It was concluded that massage therapy with a duration 5 weeks or greater had beneficial immediate effects on improving pain, anxiety and depression in these patients. How does massage therapy actually work?

A trained massage therapist will manipulate the person’s muscles and soft tissue in order to reduce pain. There is more research indicating that massage can also help those with fibromyalgia with:

  • decreasing anxiety
  • decrease depression
  • improve quality of sleep over time
  • decrease stiffness
  • decrease fatigue
  • improve cortisol levels


There are various types of massage therapies–deep tissue, Swedish, Sports, hot stone–and you may find yourself having to experiment with several kinds before you find the right one for you. If you are seeking to ease your pain from fibromyalgia via massage therapy, please reach out to us at Everett Spine & Rehab. Our office is in Everett, near Lynnwood and Mill Creek.


Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

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