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6 Massage Therapies for Fibromyalgia

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes widespread pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints. While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, there are numerous treatments.

Here we'll take a look at six different types of massage that may be beneficial for those with fibromyalgia. So if you're looking for relief from your symptoms, consider giving some of these massages a try!

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Fibromyalgia pain is unlike any other; the pain is usually widespread, including in the neck, buttocks, shoulders, arms, upper back, and chest. In addition, the pain can be so severe that it's debilitating.

Massage therapies for Fibromyalgia

Though treatment will vary from one person to another, it should be no surprise that massage can help improve fibromyalgia symptoms that involve pain.

In addition to relaxing your muscles, massage can help you improve your sleep quality and relieve tension headaches. Also, it will help you release stress and anxiety when done correctly.

During massage therapy, your muscles and soft tissues are manipulated to relieve stress, decrease pain, and increase mobility. Massage is usually done with the hands, and various techniques are used to deliver a therapeutic massage.

Massage methods involve rubbing, kneading, and palpating the muscles. Sometimes, massage therapists use a particular tool or device to relieve tension in tight muscles.

Hot and cold treatments are also used during massages to expand blood flow and relax muscles.

It's believed that massage therapy helps enhance the production of certain pain blockers, including endorphins, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These hormones work to counteract pain signals conducted by the brain, explaining why massage offers such dramatic pain relief.

How to use massage to relieve fibromyalgia pain

The benefits of massage therapy include improved blood circulation to the muscles allowing for faster muscle repair, increased flexibility, improved range of motion, less stress and depression, reduced pain, reduced stiffness, and improved sleep patterns.

There are various kinds of massages that a massage therapist offers. Some of the most popular massage therapies are:


The Swedish massage technique is a specific type of massage designed to increase oxygen to your muscles. Swedish massage helps flush out toxins and enhance the flexibility and health of your muscles.

Swedish massage for fibromyalgia pain

Swedish massage involves long, gliding movements, which involve stroking the body with the thumbs, fingertips, and palms. However, Swedish massage also uses kneading and tapping, utilizing vibrations to benefit the body.


Deep-tissue massage is a vigorous massage used to loosen areas of tight or tense muscles and tissues. This therapy targets the deep layers of the muscles and tendons, helping to release tension and chronic muscle pain.

The massage therapist will use deep strokes with firm pressure and press along and across the muscles. Deep tissue massage uses slower but deeper strokes compared to Swedish massage therapy, so you may feel some soft tissue pain immediately following the massage, which should disappear within a day.

Consider taking an Epsom salt bath afterward, ensure you get plenty of sleep, and schedule a rest day the next day to avoid a Fibromyalgia flare.


Myofascial release techniques help relieve myofascial pain caused by stiffness and tightness in the body's fascia. Fascia is a thin layer of tissue that covers all muscles and organs.

Sometimes in people with fibromyalgia, the fascia can become extremely short and tense, causing widespread pain. Myofascial release therapy uses specific pressure, massage, and stretching techniques to relieve this pain.

In a 2011 study, researchers found that the participants with fibromyalgia who did myofascial release therapy for 90 min once weekly for 20 weeks had noticeably less fibromyalgia pain.


Trigger point therapy is a popular massage therapy that eliminates pain and tension radiating from trigger points or palpable muscle knots. It's sometimes called myotherapy.

Trigger-point therapy can be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia. It can reduce muscle stiffness, increase range of motion, increase flexibility, enhance circulation, allow the body to heal from stress and tension, and ease depression and anxiety.

Trigger point therapy for fibromyalgia pain

During trigger point therapy, the therapist puts pressure on trigger points using her fingers, knuckles, and elbows. Pressure is usually maintained for about 10 seconds and then released.

The pressure is then reapplied in a pumping action for 30 seconds more. After releasing the trigger points, the muscles are stretched and lengthened to promote flexibility.


Cupping therapy is especially beneficial for people who have fibromyalgia, helping to reduce pain and soften stiff muscles and tissues.

A 2011 study to evaluate the therapeutic effect of cupping for the treatment of fibromyalgia for 10 min once daily for 15 days found that cupping was associated with a reduction in fibromyalgia symptoms for both pain ratings and the number of tender points.

Cupping Therapy uses glass cups applied to the skin. Air from the cups is removed using either a suction pump or heat, creating a vacuum inside each glass cup.

applies massage and pressurepain relief andThe cups are placed on various acupressure points throughout the body and left for about ten minutes. This therapy helps relieve pain, flush out toxins, and restore healthy blood flow to the body.

There are two main types of cupping:

  • Massage Cupping: The cups are moved around the skin in a massage-like technique during massage cupping.

  • Fixed Cupping: Each cup stays in one spot on the skin during fixed cupping.

Regardless of pain or muscle stiffness symptoms, cupping can be a highly beneficial therapy for fibromyalgia. Cupping provides numerous benefits, including improved circulation and blood flow, toxin release, and faster healing of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Cupping should not exacerbate muscle pain or compound any of the fibromyalgia symptoms. Instead, it effectively reduces trigger points, increases muscle flexibility, improves range of motion, and decreases anxiety and depression.


Reflexology is a therapeutic treatment that uses massage and pressure applied to specific places on the feet or hands that match up to other areas and organs throughout the body.

A trained reflexologist will determine which spots to rub to provide targeted therapy, determined by your needs, fibromyalgia symptoms, and types of pain.

Reflexology is not the same as standard massage therapy. While massage therapy concentrates on relieving pain and tension from muscles, reflexology works to heal the body parts that can't be touched from the outside by manipulating pressure points.

Using charts or reflexology socks to guide you, you can perform reflexology on yourself. However, it can be beneficial to attend a workshop to learn how to do self-reflexology effectively and what points to stimulate to obtain the maximum relief of your fibromyalgia symptoms.

However, a trained reflexologist might be the best option if you're looking for specific types of pain relief and obtaining a more relaxing experience. In addition, many insurers will cover reflexology as a complementary therapy for fibromyalgia.

People with fibromyalgia who have undergone regular reflexology treatments report an improvement in the following:

  • Mental clarity

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Fatigue

  • Sleep disorders

  • Depression

  • Myofascial pain

  • Tender point pain

Massage for fibromyalgia should be painless, and its intensity should be increased slowly with each session and according to your symptoms.

Aim for regular appointments, 1-2 sessions a week. While a one-off session can help reduce immediate pain and tension, you can help manage your chronic fibromyalgia pain with the cumulative effects of regular.

Don't forget to talk to your doctor about other alternative treatment options for fibromyalgia.

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