Fibromyalgia - Information

What is it: 

  • Combination of chronic pain in muscles, tendons, ligaments
  • IBS, CFS, Headaches, Fatigue and sleeping problems can be present
  • Effects 2% of population, and 85% of them are women (Werner 2009)
  • Combination or hormonal and neuro imbalances
  • Presents as musculo-skeletal system pain, but is a central nervous system problem (Werner)
  • Client does not get level 4 sleep to enable correct depth of rest


  • Changeable pain throughout the body, moving location and varying intensity, throbbing, aching, burning
  • 9 pairs of predictable tender points (diag 1a) light pressure gives them acute pain
  • Stiffness after resting
  • Fatigue and lack of stamina
  • Magnified sensitivity to light, noise, touch and pressure
  • Ongoing persistant symptoms for at least 3 months

How is it Diagnosed:

  • A process of eliminating other conditions, eg arthritis, MS
  • Difficult to identify as no abnormality in muscles is present (Walton 2011)
  • pain from tender points is throughout the body

Can be misdiagnosed as:

  • a musclo-skeletal problem
  • Doctors need to eliminate other possible conditions before diagnosis
  • Massage Therapist must be aware of differences between tender points immediate acute pain on touch and trigger point deeper pain on pressure


  • Deep sleep loss makes symptoms worse and causes depression (vicious cycle)
  • Invisibility of disease makes it desperately isolating

Who gets it:

  • Mainly women although this could be as men do not seek help for it.
  • People who overdo it and cope for years and then their health crashes
  • Older people are more like to show symptoms


  • Can get worse or remain the same for months or years
  • Cases may improve with lifestyle changes or stress reduction

Who to refer to:

  • Doctor to investigate what is wrong
  • If IBS, nutritionist to helps with complications
  • Yoga or meditation class to help with fatigue and mental/emotional distress

How to treat:

  • Medication can be helpful
  • Important to palpate the body and note which areas are specifically painful from touch and to avoid pressure, stretches and joint mobilisation that will cause pain

What timescale:

  • This will be an ongoing to treatment
  • Pressure may be able to become deeper with ongoing sessions