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Fibromylagia is a very real and distressing chronic pain disorder shared by millions.The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS, 2014) reports that it has been estimated that Fibromyalgia (FM) affects 5 million Americans age 18 or older, most of whom are women yet it can be seen in children and men as well. Fibromyalgia (FM) is a common chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread and heightened sensitivities to pain and touch, excessive fatigue, non-restorative sleep, morning stiffness, anxiety, with onset being gradual over a period of months or years. Patients also commonly report bowel disorders, increased cardiac awareness, headache, and temporal-mandibular joint dysfunction and depression. Cognitive dysfunction such as forgetfulness and inability to think clearly as well as mood disorders have been listed as among the most distressing symptoms. The exact causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but in current research a theory exists that FM is caused by Central Sensitization which involves a nervous system that is stuck in a persistent state of heightened reactivity to pain. The course of FM can vary across different individuals. While it can get worse, it is not inevitable that it worsens. Additionally, with treatment, it can improve.

Since there is no known cure, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and reducing the impact that the condition has on the patient’s life. Reduction of pain remains to be one of the prominent goals of treatment. According to the Institute for Chronic Pain and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, common treatments for FM can include complementary and alternative therapies such as massage therapy and myofascial release, swimming and other forms of tolerable exercise, anti-inflammatory medications, antidepressant medications, anticonvulsant medications, opioid medications, physical therapy, trigger point injections, cognitive behavioral therapy, and chronic pain rehabilitation programs. Many health care providers agree that this multidisciplinary team approach is the most effect way to treat the symptoms of FM.

Many FM patients frequently seek manual therapy to relieve their chronic stress and pain. Both Swedish Massage Therapy and Myofascial ReleaseTherapy in a pilot study have been found to be safe, tolerable, and effective treatments for Fibromyalgia patients ( Liptan et al, 2013). Here at Johnston Integrative Therapy, I can offer both of those services and more. I can offer self-care education such as progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing exercises, sleep hygiene suggestions, and other relaxation and pain reduction techniques or just be there to listen when you need someone to listen.

Below is a list of websites for in-depth information and suggestions for the treatment of Fibromylagia.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

Information Clearinghouse

National Institutes of Health


National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

National Institutes of Health


American College of Rheumatology


Advocates for Fibromyalgia Funding, Treatment, Education, and Research


Fibromyalgia Network


National Fibromyalgia Association


National Fibromyalgia Partnership, Inc.


Arthritis Foundation



Liptan, G., Mist, S., Wright, C., Arzt, A., & Jones, K. D. (2013). A pilot study of myofascial release therapy compared to Swedish massage in Fibromyalgia. Journal Of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 17(3), 365-370. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.11.010

Johnston Integrative Therapy LLC

Judith H. Johnston MS/OTR, LMT, CLT

Liscensed Massage Therapist

Registered Occupational Therapist

Certified Lymphedema Therapist

128 S. Concord Ave

Watertown, WI 53094


Massage Therapy in Watertown, WI

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