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Massage can help people with fibromyalgia

Massage Therapy Can Help With Fibromyalgia

Massage therapy for fibromyalgiaFibromyalgia is a painful rheumatic condition characterized by muscle aches and specific tender points throughout the body. Those with fibromyalgia are also more likely to experience episodes of anxiety and depression as well as difficulty sleeping relative to their levels of pain (Rattray & Ludwig, 2000). The mechanism that causes fibromyalgia is still not clearly understood nor is there a cure for the condition. This can make it difficult for those with fibromyalgia to find proper treatments.

Massage Therapy and chronic pain

Benefits of Massage

Massage therapy can benefit those with fibromyalgia by providing a relaxing treatment that not only helps with regional pain but also decreases depressive moods and anxiety. (Field et al., 2002; Leonid 2010).

Studies suggest that the increase in muscle flexibility and local blood and lymph circulation caused by massage may cause the inflammatory mediators of pain to be reabsorbed. The increase in serotonin levels experienced during a massage are also likely to contribute to the decrease in pain felt by the patient by the end of a treatment (Li et at., 2014). By controlling the pain, patients will also benefit from better sleep and improved moods.

What to Know Before Massage Therapy for Fibromyalgia

Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) are trained to adjust their treatment for specific pathologies. When it comes to fibromyalgia, the RMTs will always maintain an open dialogue to ensure that you are comfortable throughout the entire appointment. Pressure can be adjusted to a level that is comfortable for you, while still targeting your areas of concern. Never be afraid to ask your therapist to alter anything about your treatment. Our goal is to do everything possible to best serve you and improve your quality of life.

Other Treatments That May Help

Power walkingMovement has also been shown to decrease fibromyalgia pain when done in conjunction with massage (Field et al., 2002). Movement can be as simple as going for daily walks. If you are unsure of where to start in creating a fibromyalgia movement routine that works for you, you may benefit from an appointment with a physiotherapist who can assist you by providing exercises and stretches to aid with your chronic pain. Find out about our physiotherapist <here>.

As fibromyalgia causes sensitivity to touch, some individuals may find massage to be overstimulating. In this case, acupuncture is an alternative treatment that provides many of the same benefits as massage. Studies have shown that acupuncture can decrease pain at tender points and decrease general pain levels for individuals with fibromyalgia (Sign et al., 2006). Find out more about our acupuncturist <here>.

If you are interested in trying massage for your fibromyalgia pain, you can find our more about our services <here> and book online <here>. To book an appointment with a physiotherapist or acupuncturist, please call our office at 403-329-1300. Full contact information can be found <here>.


Rattray, F. S., & Ludwig, L. (2000). Clinical massage therapy: Understanding, assessing and treating over 70 conditions. W. Ross MacDonald School Resource Services Library. 

Li, Y., Wang, F., Feng, C., Yang, X., & Sun, Y. (2014). Massage therapy for fibromyalgia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS ONE9(2).

Field, T., Delage, J., & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2003). Movement and massage therapy reduce fibromyalgia pain. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies7(1), 49–52.

Sign, B. B., Wu, W-S., Hwang, S. H., Khorsan, R., Der-Marttirosian, C., Vunjamury, S. P., Wang, C-N., Lin, S. Y. (2006). Effectivemenss of acupuncture in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Alternative Therpaies in Health Medicine.  12(2), 34-41.


Authored by: Megan Dobbie BA, RMT