Shiatsu for Fibromyalgia

May 12 is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. 

Shiatsu massage for fibromyalgia

Massage therapy is one of the most beneficial treatments for fibromyalgia pain and fatigue. Excellent results can be obtained over time as chronic patterns unwind and while there is no quick fix, you should feel better after your first treatment. Occasionally, you may feel worse before you feel better, but we try to avoid this by regulating how you are responding during the session.

Shiatsu manipulates muscles, fascia, and energy.  It promotes proper circulation of blood and qi, and encourages deep breathing by the patient which promotes tissue oxygenation, aiding in healing and helping to eliminate pain.

 While shiatsu is not the only form of massage that has been shown to be useful for this affliction it has shown excellent results.  It targets pressure points  and the energetic meridians in order to stimulate the body to relax and relieve itself of pain. And while we also employ many musculo-skeletal techniques during a session we avoid any that stress the tissues.

And so you may be wondering why if you already hurt, you would want someone pressing on you? You need to know that we don’t have a standard treatment protocol for fibromyalgia. Just as every person was different before they were diagnosed, they are still each unique individuals with their own expressions of fibromyalgia. We consider where you are in your life, your day and your pain cycle. For instance, some people benefit from very deep pressure, but for many gentle pressure gives a much deeper effect.

In a survey completed by fibromyalgia sufferers, massage therapy was rated the best treatment option by an overwhelming majority. Benefits include increased circulation to the muscles, allowing for faster muscle repair, increased flexibility, decreased stress and depression, reduced pain, reduced stiffness, and improved sleep. In a 1996 study, fibromyalgia sufferers reported a 28% decrease in pain after a series of 10 half hour treatments. They were also able to sleep longer and woke up less often.

Another study, which was conducted by the New Touch Research Institute of the University of Miami School of Medicine, showed that massage therapy helped improve patients with joint and muscle pains.  The study concluded that massage therapy helped decreased pain and tenderness, increased levels of serotonin, decreased levels of stress hormones, and improved the patient’s overall sense of well-being.

In April 2002 in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, also reported that the group of patients with joint and muscle pain that received massage therapy reported improved sleep duration and  quality, and decreased pain.

Fibromyalgia is one of the most debilitating conditions, and an estimated 5.8 million people in the U.S. suffer from it.  The disease manifests itself in symptoms that involve muscle aches, pain, weakness, and joint stiffness.  It also involves unexplained fatigue, making it difficult for patients to move or perform normal daily activities. It is a functional, chronic, non-inflammatory and non-degenerative disease  (some of its other names are muscular rheumatism, myofibrositis, fibromyositis, fibrositis, and myalgic encephalitis,)

No one knows the cause of fibromyalgia and no one has a perfect cure. With shiatsu we work to manage pain, and increase quality of life.  Many have benefited from its effects.

If you are one who is suffers from the pain of fibromyalgia; I wish you the best on your healing journey whether or not you decide to try shiatsu.



 Karen Kessler LMP ABT

1104 Main Street, Suite 306
Vancouver WA 98660
360 735 9432 or contact

Karen has been practicing Asian Bodywork Therapy for over 20 years. Using shiatsu, tuina and thai massage she can help you in your quest for good health. She works both energetically and structurally to reduce pain and stress, and to promote healing and injury recovery.