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Massage or myofascial release for FM - experiences
9 Replies
suzannez - June 2

Hi there,

sorry for barging in here with a question like this. If a few of you will take time to answer I will appreciate it so much (and so will my clients...)
I'm a licensed massage therapist and I'm going to start working with a number of fibromyalgia patients soon.

I am reading and reading and I find that there is way too much information developed my massage therapists and P.T.'s on the effects of massage and MFR. I am however much more interested in patient experiences. From what I've found so far, a lot of FM patients are put off by the pain from the first few treatments and don't find relief. Others get gentle massages and it helps them a lot - and others still get deep tissue, triggerpoint or myofascial release work directly on the tender points and it does decrease their pain over time, even though it's always painful during the session.

If you have ever tried massage, please please tell me your experience. Specify as much as possible - did the therapist use light, general strokes, or did she or he put direct pressure, light, moderate, deep, or kneading over the tender points?

If it helped, how? If it made your symptoms worse, how and for how long?

Also let me know if you have used deep moist heat packs - I have talked to at least on FM sufferer who felt that heat made her pain worse, and cold water or ice packs was sometimes the only thing that helped.

Thank you for reading!


VictoriaB - June 2

I have been getting massages for over a year now. My friend who is also a Nurse went through the program and recently was licensed as a Massage Therapist. I get deep tissue massages, which hurt sometimes over the trigger points in shoulders and upper arms but if I can stand it, it really helps later on that day. she uses moist heat which really helps, anything cold really makes my pain worse. The worst of my pain comes from my rib cage and hips/thighs. some days I do not think i can actually make it through!! Massage has been (along with my pain meds) has been the light at the end of the tunnel for me, truly a God send. Jill practiced on me while she was in school and said that she has never seen anyone as knotty as me with knots everywhere she works. She said some of her Fibro patients can hardly stand to be touched but it helps me.............Good Luck and God Bless everyone with this Fibro!


suzannez - June 2

Thanks VictoriaB - this is interesting. It does sound like many other stories I've heard. I really hope you'll start to feel better, I'm glad a few things are helping you. I guess communicating clearly about the potential benefits and drawbacks is key, huh. Anyone else?


allaboutpizazz - June 3

From what I've heard, it varies a lot based on the person. I know one woman with fibromyalgia who was referred to a massage therapist but couldn't go back after one visit because it was so excruciating for her. Then again, her FM symptoms are to the point where even putting on a sweater hurts her. One of my teachers has fibromyalgia and gets deep tissue massages though and says it's the only thing that's helped her.


suzannez - June 3

Hmm. I wonder if massages during flare ups have a different effect than when symptoms have calmed down, if massage can aggrevate symptoms of those in remission, etc. If anyone has experience with that, keep posting... Seems very trial and error at this point. Thanks for responding!


WellAndFit - May 3

I am a massage therapist who specializes in John Barnes Myofascial Release. I have been very successful with JFBMFR with my FM clients. In contrast to massage, MFR is gentle and does not aggravate tender points. Instead, it is able to go to the root cause of pain: restrictions in the fascia, both superficial and deep. I have my clients draw their pain patterns before each session, and then after the session. In all cases, the after drawing is all but void of any drawing: all pain issues were addressed in one one-hour session



I read this post after I posted my message about a hot stone massage. I can say it was the worse pain I felt in a while. I won't be getting another one. I am glad to hear that it helps some people but it didn't help me except while I was getting it .


axxie - May 6

I'll give you my two cents on my experience. I cannot take much pain, so my massage has to be very light, and if there is any kind of deep tissue trigerpoint or myofascial release I cannot stand it, as it really hurts me. But then again anyone touching my back will find I cannot stand any pain.

I can go to a chiropractor who does not touch my back except to release a trigger point and I will be fine, as long as he does nothing else on my back, some days I can take the pain of just one release, but will on some days not be able to take the pain that comes with the release and I will need to go back so that they can reajust my back so I won't suffer needlessly.

I do well on warm water massage it doesn't hurt has much during or afterwards. The cold ice packs have limited timing and then I'll seek a very hot shower for long periods to release my pain.

I'm on 60mg Cymbalta and Trazadone for sleep and have muscle relexant that I take on occasion when it's really needed.


Nimu - May 6

I've had both gentle massages and deep tissue massages but my reaction has been primarily based on my situation on the day. When I have a flare up the gentle massages do wonders for me. The deep tissues can be painful whenever the situation.

I have found that about 20 minutes of swimming helps to relieve the knots and tightness all over the body but it does leave me terribly tired so I prefer to do this at the end of the day.

I hope that this helps and I wish you all the best!


toots2889 - May 7

suzannez, I thank you and applaud you for your efforts for going the extra mile here to try to understand us and find what works best.
Ive had myofacial release done more times than I care to count. Same for massages. I too am the biggest whimp when it comes to pain. Heck, I even pass out if its to bad.
Im just starting myofacial treatments again. Yesterday was my first day and yes it was painful at times. She said im in bad shape and she could literally play music off my mucles and tendons.(im that tight all over). My tail bone is out along with other discs and hips ect. I thought when I work up today I would be really sore, but I wasnt. My muscles in my legs and low back ache but thats it. Her style was like I had it a while back and it works. Ive had others that really go after the trigger points right away and press down and hold and you come out feeling bruised and sore. It really depends on who does it and how they do it and that goes for massage also. If they go for the kill it will hurt. My best results have come from light to moderate.
Its helped me feel better by my muscle not hurting so much, and I have better movement. I prefer heat over cold packs.
The only downfall for me is, It doesnt last and I end up bad again. I dont know if i need to get massages on a weekly basis to make sure to stay loose or what?
Good luck to you and your patients. A little bit of pain for alot of relief is worth it.



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