Fibromyalgia and Getting a Massage

Shortly after I was diagnosed with my fibromyalgia my doctor recommended I try a massage. I went to a local fancy spa and salon and had the most miserable time. It was a nightmare.

Despite telling the lady multiple times that I was super sensitive and asking her to ease up at least as many times, I left in tears. Maybe the tears didn’t start until we left the spa. I can’t remember. But you get the point.  I hated it and my mom felt awful for making me the appointment.  All-in-all I swore I’d never get another massage.

About a decade later I finally changed my mind.  I sit at a desk nearly all day and my back and shoulders get stiff.  I favor one hip so my lower back gets tense.  My ribs and sternum (or clavicle) seem to pop at will, leaving knots along my back and chest.  Every time I visit Dr. Delilah she recommends I get a massage (not as strongly as she recommends the same for Daniel).  She has massage therapists in her office who I hear raved about.  And she was willing to brief them on my conditions.  I could not say no.

I tried to convince myself I was only doing it so Daniel would, but (to be honest) I was excited.  We scheduled appointments at the same time for the Saturday before his school came back from break, January 3.  “What a great and relaxing way for him to prepare for another semester teaching, and another semester of grad school,” I thought.  “He’ll love that.”  Little did I know I would too…

Thank goodness Delilah talked me into it.  I am a new and huge fan of massages.  Especially from folks who understand fibromyalgia.  I feel more relaxed and painfree (in the fibro sort of way) than I have in more than a decade.  My joints aren’t swollen (like after the last massage).  And my sinuses are even draining  (bizarre).  Although the true test(s) will be how I feel a day and a week from now, I am pretty convinced massages will be part of my ever-evolving treatment plan.  As will my Rhapsody Bed.  But we’ll talk more about that later.

So fibrofolks, tell me about your massage experiences.  Do they help with your fibromyalgia symptoms?  Do they relieve or reduce your chronic pain?

10 Responses

  • Chronic Chick Talk on January 3, 2009, 14:03:05

    Thanks for the comment. Massage is something I have thought about a lot. I do get some relief from warm bath with lavender and Epsom salts. I do wish I had a whirlpool. I do have one of those bubble spas, but its uncomfortable to sit on and a pain in the neck to set up when you hurt already. can’t win for losing.

    Reply to Chronic
  • Hans Albert Quistorff, LMP on January 4, 2009, 00:27:38

    As YOU discovered there is great difference between massage [rubbing]and massage therapy that is adapted to FMS. Chiropractors adjust the position of bones but depend on highly trained massage therapists to fallow up with the adjustment of the muscles that hold the bones. For FMS this is done by positioning and holding with very little rubbing which only irritates the fibers of the muscles which have pain [definition of Fibromyalgia]
    Your description indicates that your pelvis gets distorted. There is always a reciprocal distortion of the bones of our head, therefore your sinus cavities were not being flushed by the cranio sacral movement. Once your pelvis was unlocked your head unlocked and your sinus began to drain.
    You should also have less Fibro Fog as it is called by some when the mind seem clouded.
    Hans Albert Quistorff, LMP
    Antalgic Posture Pain Specialist

    Reply to Hans
  • Julie on January 6, 2009, 01:48:52

    I work with fibromyalgia clients as a massage therapist. There are some clients who can take more pressure and some that can’t so you never really know what will happen until you do the massage.

    Fibro usually has many components one of them being adrenal stress which causes the stress response system to become overloaded. Working with a ND and changing your diet can help- getting off sugar, caffeine and high carbs.

    There are many articles on massage and fibromyalgia linked from my site on massage


    Reply to Julie
  • Tamicat on January 6, 2009, 18:00:49

    I have a therapist I’ve seen for years. Recently I started giving her what kind of pressure I want on a 1-10 scale. There’s some days I want a “smooshie” massage (as she calls it) that’s relaxing and not deep. On other days I can handle more pressure and she’ll work on the deep tissue. It’s definitely helped me to get massage. I just wish I could go more often! It’s also been a help that I’ve seen the same gal for years. She’s gotten to know my body and I know what to tell her so I can get the most benefit from it.

    Reply to Tamicat
  • Amy on January 9, 2009, 01:48:56

    It took me awhile before I found a masseuse that I really liked. It hurts more, but I actually prefer a firmer massage because I know that it will benefit me later. They just have to start light & really warm up your muscles. It sometimes helps if they massage you using Bio-Freeze. I go once per month. I just had one today. Absolutely amazing!

    Reply to Amy
  • K8 on January 25, 2009, 17:39:19

    What great comments! I am glad to see there are so many others who find massages helpful. I’m getting ready to schedule another appointment. I will be sure to ask about your recommendations.

    Reply to K8
  • Spa Equipment on March 6, 2009, 01:09:26

    Great article.Massage is something I have thought about a lot. I do get some relief from warm bath with lavender and Epsom salts.
    Spa Equipment

    Reply to Spa
  • Miranda on May 12, 2009, 23:19:15

    I get massage therapy on my shoulders, neck and upper back due to a car accident. It really helps relax those sore muscles for a little while. Unfortunately that treatment will be ending in the next week or so. But I have a friend that is a massage therapist that I thought about scheduling a massage with. But I just don’t know if I can handle my arms, legs and lower back to be massaged. They really need it just as much as my neck and shoulders. But those are the most tender parts of my body that even the lightest touch sends excruciating pain throughout the rest of my body. Anybody else have this problem??

    Reply to Miranda
  • Linda Frost on October 8, 2009, 16:12:28

    I think I’ll give a massage a try. Hi Kate! It’s so nice to stumble upon your site. I and two of my sisters have fibro. and were researching the voltaren patch (which is how I found your site). Your articles help me feel less crazy, like all my pain is in my head or that other may think that. Thanks for sharing what works and your experiences. Do you still like the voltaren patch? I think I’ll ask for that from my doctor. I have had PT’s help me in the past. They explained to me that they “hold” the muscle at it’s starting point then they stretch it slowly and carefully while holding it’s base. That made sense to me. A book that has helped me identify what was exactly hurting is “Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain – A Survival Manual” by Devin Starlanyl and Mary Copeland. This book has extensive diagrams of the body explaining exact locations of trigger points. I recommend this book for every one with fibro.

    Reply to Linda