What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is used to describe a ‘constellation of symptoms’ characterized by widespread pain in the muscles and joints, fatigue, sleep problems and cognitive difficulties (Arnold et al. 2018) .
The most recent research suggest that symptoms are caused by inflammation of the central nervous system. More specifically sustained glial cell activation and elevated levels of certain inflammatory substances (Albrecht et al. 2018).
In essence, the current thought is that due to ongoing neuro-inflammation there is a hyper-vigilance of the nervous system. Symptoms are then exacerbated because the body struggles to dampen neuro-immune responses associated with pain, fatigue and cognitive difficulties.
Can Massage Therapy Help?
A number of clinical practice guidelines (American & Canadian) now recommend the use of massage therapy as part of a multi-modal approach for patients with Fibromyalgia (Busse et al. 2017, Skelly et al. 2018). It is not suggest that massage therapy alone can control symptoms but can utilized to help relieve pain & reduce anxiety when integrated with standard care.
Why Does Massage Therapy Help?
The responses to massage therapy are multifactorial (physiological and psychological factors interplay in a complex manner). An observed favorable outcome may be explained by a number of overlapping responses in the periphery, spinal cord, and brain, including but not limited to: modulation of spinal and supra-spinal reflex excitability (inhibition of nociceptive processing and activation of descending inhibitory mechanisms), and modulation neuro-immune responses (Espejo et al. 2018).
So if you suffer from fibromyalgia, or you know someone who suffers from fibromyalgia help spread the word that massage therapy can be used to help manage symptoms.
More to Explore
Agarwal et al. (2018). Attitudes Toward and Management of Fibromyalgia: A National Survey of Canadian Rheumatologists and Critical Appraisal of Guidelines. J Clin Rheumatol.
Albrecht et al. (2018). Brain glial activation in fibromyalgia - A multi-site positron emission
tomography investigation. Brain Behav Immun.
Arnold et al. (2018). AAPT Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia. J Pain.
Busse et al. (2017). Guideline for opioid therapy and chronic noncancer pain. CMAJ.
Bourgaize et al. (2018) Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome: Two sides of the same coin? A scoping review to determine the lexicon of the current diagnostic criteria. Musculoskeletal Care.
Clauw, D.J. (2014). Fibromyalgia: a clinical review. JAMA.
de Oliveira et al. (2018). Massage therapy in cortisol circadian rhythm, pain intensity, perceived stress index and quality of life of fibromyalgia syndrome patients. Complement Ther Clin Pract.
Espejo et al. (2018). Unraveling the Molecular Determinants of Manual Therapy: An Approach to Integrative Therapeutics for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Int J Mol Sci.
Kumbhare et al. (2018). A narrative review on the difficulties associated with fibromyalgia diagnosis. Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis.
Martucci et al. (2018). Altered Cervical Spinal Cord Resting State Activity in Fibromyalgia. Arthritis Rheumatol.
Nijs, J., & Houdenhove, B. V. (2009). From acute musculoskeletal pain to chronic widespread pain and fibromyalgia: Application of pain neurophysiology in manual therapy practice. Manual Therapy.
Prabhakar et al. (2019). The Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments in Fibromyalgia: a Comprehensive Review. Curr Rheumatol Rep.
Skelly et al. (2018). Noninvasive Nonpharmacological Treatment for Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Sluka, K.A., Clauw, D.J. (2016). Neurobiology of fibromyalgia and chronic widespread pain. Neuroscience.
Wolfe et al. (2016). 2016 Revisions to the 2010/2011 fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria. Semin Arthritis Rheum.
Yuan et al. (2015). Effectiveness of different styles of massage therapy in fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Man Ther.