When I first started teaching pathology to massage therapists about 12 years ago I had to do my research on Fibromyalgia before I could talk about it. I really didn't know that much about it but I knew that people were being diagnosed with it. And then I found out that possibly some people were being misdiagnosed with it. Let me tell you what I found out back then.
Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) a chronic pain syndrome involving sleep disorders and a predictable pattern of tender points in muscle and other soft tissue. It is diagnosed after all other diseases are ruled out and when 11 active tender points are found disributed among all quadrants of the body. Nine pairs of tender points in total have been identified on the body.
Fibromyalgia often overlaps with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and during my initial research there was the possible association with Epstein-Barr virus as this is associated with mononucleosis, a disease noted for it characteristic symptom of tiredness. FMS also may include Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS), hypothyroidism, TMJ problems and myofascial pain syndrome. The pain is "invisible" with no outward signs.
At that time I also found that FMS sufferers may have the following:
I also found some things that at that time FMS was NOT:
What is was however was a combination of related sleep disorders, endocrine and neuro-transmitter imbalances and the emotional state of the patient.
In my original notes I have the following: May eventually be reclassed as a CNS disorder because of the presence of increased levels of 2 neurotransmitters in CSF of patients which may initiate nerve activity and lead to the pain.
I have always taught that massage is indicated but do not overtreat as clients are sensitive to pain. I also have always noted that clients may have been misdiagnosed in the past. I have experienced clients that would tell me that they have been diagnosed with FMS but want deep tissue work. I say (not to the client) that is NOT fibromyalgia.
Fast forward to the Winter 2015 issue of Massage Therapy Journal from AMTA. (Hey, I'm getting things out of boxes and so I found it!) The Right Touch - "With recent research suggesting fibromyalgia may be a central nervous system disorder, can massage therapy still help? The answer is - Yes." I feel vindicated in my research from years ago!
Paula J Kaprocki, LMT
I am a Licensed Massage Therapist with thoughts, aspirations and opinions - much like any other person on the planet!