Complementary Providers and Fibromyalgia

Complementary Providers and Fibromyalgia

Complementary providers offer alternative treatments to fibromyalgia patients. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia you may seek relief from your painful symptoms from such complementary providers as an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, or a massage therapist. These natural techniques propose that the patient’s body is able to heal using the mind, body, and spirit.

Complementary treatments and traditional medical treatments are optimized when used together. Your physician may suggest you take advantage of alternative treatments to take advantage of all opportunities to lessen the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Acupuncture and Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture involves inserting needles into the patient’s skin at specific points. The acupuncturist will gently manipulate the acupuncture needle to aid in releasing endorphins, natural pain relievers, into the bloodstream. Plus, acupuncture restores a patient’s ‘qi’, or energy center.

Acupuncture can increase a patient’s tolerance of pain. Neurotransmitters can alter the nerve impulses in the brain when stimulated by acupuncture. When this occurs, the brain no longer relays information about pain in the same way.

A review of seven research studies found that real acupuncture is effective for relieving pain, increasing the pain thresholds, and reducing the rates of morning stiffness in fibromyalgia patients.[1]

Fibromyalgia patients normally require one acupuncture treatment per month to treat chronic pain.

Chiropractic Care and Fibromyalgia

Many primary care physicians recommend chiropractic care to their fibromyalgia patients. Chiropractors treat tender points, back and spine pain, neck and should pain, headaches and migraines, and other symptoms that present with fibromyalgia. As a complementary treatment, chiropractic care will ease your pain level and increase your overall range of motion.

Chiropractors view the body as able to self-heal. To aid in healing, the chiropractor will make adjustments to the spine during treatments. The key is to unlock the spine which is considered ‘out of position’.

Allowing a person to manipulate your spine may sound scary, but a chiropractor uses gentle movements and patients leave feeling refreshed. Chiropractic care involves light pressure, stretching, and thrusts to adjust the spine.

Massage and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia patients report that massage therapy gives excellent relief of their symptoms. As a complementary treatment, it is one of the most popular alternatives.

Deep Tissue Massage: This form of massage targets muscles in the deepest layers of the muscles. It utilizes more pressure than other forms of massage. The massage therapist uses long, slow strokes along with pressure to release tension on the muscle tissue. The massage therapist can use his or her thumbs or elbows, in addition to the fingers and palms, to reach deep tissue.

Swedish Massage: Less intense than a deep tissue massage, a Swedish massage also uses long, slow strokes. In addition, the massage therapist will knead the tissues and use friction.

Myofascial Release: This form of massage therapy is known for relieving pain and increasing range of motion. Practitioners use soft tissue therapy to relax muscles that have contracted.

In a study with fibromyalgia patients, myofascial release therapy significantly helped to improve pain symptoms, the quality of sleep, and other symptoms of the disease.[2]

Your massage therapist may want to schedule appointments as often as once a week. In addition to reducing your level of pain, massage is a mood booster and can even decrease your reliance on medications.

Osteopathic Therapy and Fibromyalgia

A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine is a licensed physician. Like an MD, a DO can diagnosis and treat a variety of health conditions and prescribe medicine. However, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine views the practice of medicine differently than an MD. He or she approaches the ‘whole’ patient. This is excellent for fibromyalgia patients.

Your first visit to a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine will include your medical history. The doctor will focus on your lifestyle and general health. The physician will look at your spine and posture as well as your limbs, muscles, and tendons during your physical exam.

Your Osteopath may manually manipulate joints and your spine to relieve pain and improve mobility. A recent study shows that patients who receive manipulative therapy in conjunction with medicine see a marked reduction in their pain levels.[3]

Complementary providers offer fibromyalgia patients more options than they will typically find in the office of their primary care physician. If you are looking for relief from fibromyalgia symptoms discuss alternative treatments with your doctor.


[1]  Is acupuncture effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia? . (n.d.). Retrieved from UK PubMed Central:

[2]  Benefits of Massage-Myofascial Release Therapy on Pain, Anxiety, Quality of Sleep, Depression, and Quality of Life in Patients with Fibromyalgia. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Institute of Health:

[3]  Osteopathic manipulative treatment in conjunction with medication relieves pain associated with fibromyalgia syndrome: results of a randomized clinical pilot project. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Institute of Health:

This article was originally published on July 11, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/7/2015