Pain is a Four Letter Word Part 2

By Laura Gordon,

In my last blog Lymphatic Drainage was examined as an effective massage technique for clients with Fibromyalgia (FM).   Now we’ll explore techniques that can be used in a more traditional Swedish massage.

With a client’s agreement you can work toward the goal of deeper more clinical massage to address the specific areas of pain from which our client suffers. In the above left image you’ll see the common areas on the body where individuals suffering with FM feel excruciating pain.

Treating Fibromyalgia with Swedish massage takes a series five to ten sessions of “light” (effleurage and or lymphatic) treatments. Preferably the client will come twice a week so the body can become accustom to and relax under your touch allowing you, the massage therapist, to slowly work deeper into the tissue.  Working too deeply early in the treatment series may cause the affected areas to release too much built-up metabolic waste.  This can aggravate the painful condition of the client.

During the early phase of treatment you will need to keep in mind that pressure on the rib cage, caused by lying on the stomach for more than 12 minutes, can create additional tension in the muscles.  Consider treating the neck and upper back with client supine or in a side lying position with a rolled up towel between the neck and pillow.


Base of Neck:

Place your fingers around the occipital bone gradually massaging and warming the region while very slowly increasing pressure for three minutes.

After five to ten treatments the tissue must be sufficiently warmed up through friction for you to use myofascial release as well as begin moving into the deeper layers of tissue.

Use of a heating element such as an electric blanket, massage table heating pad, a moist, hot towel or hydrocullator pack is beneficial and can be added prior to the massage.

Shoulder Blades:

In a a side lying position, first warm up the tissue.  Then place your hand on the anterior shoulder joint for support while using the fingers of the other hand to massage into the scapula area.

Diet & Exercise:

Nutrition and exercise have been found to be beneficial to the FM clients.  However, my advise is to address these two matters after your massage work as progressed through several sessions after you have begun working deeper in the tissues.

!!!!!!GOOD NEWS!!!!!!

It has been documented that when a series of massage treatments were given to FM clients, the symptoms were significantly reduced in most cases.  Massage can make a difference!

Question Time:

Why do you think women more susceptible to Fibromyalgia than men?

What would you do to help a Fibromyalgia client?


11 thoughts on “Pain is a Four Letter Word Part 2”

  1. As a person with FM, I noticed this last week when we did deep tissue that I hurt really badly. I love the techniques you show here. I would say that massage has changed my life. Before receiving regular massage, I was grumpy and in pain ALL THE TIME! Now, I am only in unbearable pain for about 4-6 days a month.

  2. Maybe women have it more because they stress easier and tend to hold stress in versus relieving it. I know I have a tendency to work myself sick.

  3. I actually had no idea what Fibromyalgia was. Its pretty interesting tho that they have treatment and ways of “curing” this issue. It’s good we have ways we can work massage into a persons healing process. I’m going to add Fibromyalgia to my list of investigation with massage, as well as Cancer, and High Cholesterol.

  4. I think that the frame of the women is probably lighter and maybe they tend to carry all of the stress in their joints. I think that just relaxing will help alleviate pain.

  5. I think that the ratio of FM in women than to FM in men is because of stress. That is a main factor anyway if not the whole reason for diagnosis. Women tend to hold emotions in and not receive any kind of treatment such as massage and other treatments for physical, mental, and emotional pain. A build up of stress can cause physical ailments on the body such as FM. My grandmother has FM and some days she doesn’t get out of bed so these particular blogs really help me and educate me so that I can help her. Thanks! 🙂

  6. I think women are more susceptible because they tend to do more that put more stress in there.

  7. This is an excellent blog! If i had a client with FM i would most definitely use the neck technique, because anytime i have used it on someone i get nothing but praise for it and hear about how they are so much more relaxed.

  8. This is an awesome blog! i think as well women are more likely to have it as well because they are more likely to be put in a stressful position.

  9. The neck techniques for FM look a lot like pregnancy massage, I wonder if out of balance hormones are the reason women suffer more from this than men. I have a relative who was diagnosed with FM only to find out that they had Lepto, which can give similar symptoms as FM. Some days you could not even touch her.