If you've tried massage as a treatment for fibromyalgia and found the results to be lackluster, maybe you should try out myofascial release therapy. A new study, conducted by researchers in the Department of Nursing and Physical Therapy at the University of Almeria, Spain, shows that myofascial release therapy can improve quality of life in patients with pain disorders, including fibromyalgia. Myofascial release is a form of therapy that helps treat somatic dysfunction by relaxing contracted muscles, increasing blood circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and soft tissue. Massage therapists use their knuckles, elbows, or other tools to stretch the soft tissue. The practitioner will move slowly through layers of soft tissue until they reach the deep tissue. The study was conducted over twenty weeks on 74 patients, randomly assigned to the myofascial release therapy or a placebo (which was a false treatment with a disconnected device). The results of the study were fairly positive, according to ProHealth.com: Immediately after treatment and at 1 month, anxiety levels, quality of sleep, pain, and quality of life were improved in the experimental group over the placebo group. However, at 6 months postintervention, there were only significant differences in the quality of sleep index.
Adrienne Dellwo at the About.com Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue blog says she found relief with the therapy, but also warns:
[I]f you have tactile or mechanical allodynia (sensitivity to touch), myofascial release may not be right for you. It's a deep form of massage, and I know I wouldn't have been able to tolerate it a couple of years ago when my allodynia was bad.
If the treatments you have just aren't enough to help you deal with your fibromyalgia symptoms, maybe myofascial release therapy is for you.