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Massage for Fibromyalgia









Howard Northrup, LMT 
is listed with the
National Fibromyalgia Association as a Massage Therapy resource
for people suffering from fibromyalgia
in the Melbourne and Titusville areas




What is fibromyalgia?

According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, fibromyalgia, which is abbreviated FM, is "a chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal aches, pain and stiffness, soft tissue tenderness, general fatigue, and sleep disturbances. The most common sites of pain include the neck, back, shoulders, pelvic girdle, and hands, but any body part can be affected. Fibromyalgia patients experience a range of symptoms of varying intensities that wax and wane over time."

How can I find out if I have fibromyalgia?

Two tests that your physician will use to determine whether or not you have fibromyalgia are:

1) by applying pressure to each of the eighteen common "tender points" (see drawing at left) and finding tenderness or pain in eleven or more of them, and 

2) your reporting of pain in all four quadrants of the body (left side, right side, above the waist, and below the waist) for a minimum duration of three months.

Can massage therapy help fibromyalgia?

Since massage therapy can reduce levels of stress and pain in the body, it is a very effective therapy for people with fibromyalgia. According to a study at the University of Miami, massage therapy (as compared to transcutaneous electrical stimulation or "TENS") improved sleep patterns and decreased pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression and cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

My own patients with fibromyalgia have told me that they have gotten the most relief from regular massage therapy treatments.

Can the Alpha-Stim help fibromyalgia?

Because the Alpha-Stim has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of pain, anxiety, and insomnia, it is an excellent treatment for fibromyalgia sufferers! Using the Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) ear clips, it delivers a painless electrical microcurrent to the brain, which can normalize the brain waves that play a part in pain, anxiety, and relaxation. 

An Alpha-Stim treatment can be given either with or without massage therapy. As an add-on to a massage therapy session, it helps the patient to get to an even deeper relaxation than during a massage therapy session alone.

Is massage performed differently for someone with fibromyalgia than for everyone else?

Fibromyalgia affects people in different ways. I have seen a number of fibromyalgia patients who have come to me for massage and they can't tolerate much pressure, but I've also seen a number of patients who need a more firm pressure.  In addition to that, fibromyalgia sufferers know that they may have a good day followed by a bad day. Depending upon how their fibromyalgia is affecting them on the day of their massage, the massage they want can vary from one session to the next. Because of this, it's very important to find a massage therapist who:

1) can vary his or her pressure to accommodate your needs, and 

2) documents the details of each session to give you the best results possible at every session.

I've heard so many stories from my fibromyalgia patients who've told me about massage therapists they've been to who used an inappropriate pressure, then didn't document what they found out that this patient needed, so the therapist would make the same mistakes repeatedly.

How can I find a massage therapist who understands fibromyalgia?

The National Fibromyalgia Association has compiled a directory of "fibro-friendly" health care providers whose names were submitted by NFA members. Based on my own work with many fibromyalgia patients, one of my regular patients has submitted my name to the NFA as a massage therapy resource for the Melbourne and Titusville areas. If you live outside this area, you can contact the NFA at 

For additional information and many helpful articles
on Fibromyalgia reviewed by board-certified physicians,
go to the VeryWell website.


Contact Howard with your questions about
 massage for fibromyalgia at

Howard Northrup, LMT
(321) 258-1201
MA# 35627