Why choose a physical therapy/myofascial release approach versus massage therapy approach to treat fibromyalgia?

Treating fibromyalgia with Myofascial Release, a hands-on technique performed by experienced professionals has been shown more effective than standard massage therapy.

In a study of 12 participants, 8 received Myofascial Release treatment from a licensed physical therapist and 4 participants received a Swedish massage by a licensed therapist.  Each treatment was 90 minutes long, 1 time per week for 4 weeks, targeting the neck, back, legs, and arms.  

After treatment each group completing the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire Revised (FIQ-R) and the modified Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire.  They each showed improvement, however the Myofascial Release group had higher scores on the questionnaires.

Myofascial Release is a safe and effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. This essential “time element” allows a viscous flow and the piezoelectric phenomenon: gentle pressure applied slowly will allow a viscoelastic fascia to elongate.

Fascia is very densely woven, covering and interpenetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, as well as, all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord.

Swedish Massage can be a variety of techniques specifically designed to relax muscles by applying pressure to them against deeper muscles and bones, and rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart.

Treating the symptoms and complaints associated with fibromyalgia with Myofascial Release is effective, and can make a notable difference in overall wellbeing.

Lauradonna D’Antoni, DPT

1. A pilot study of myofascial release therapy compared to Swedish massage in Fibromyalgia Liptan G, Mist S, Wright C, Arzt A, Jones KD
2. John F. Barnes’ Myofascial Release Approach