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Adrienne Dellwo

Fascia, Inflammation & Fibromyalgia

By June 12, 2010

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Research Brief

Recent research published in the Journal of bodywork and movement therapies suggests that fascia -- the body's network of connective tissues -- may lead to the central sensitization that's a key component of fibromyalgia.

Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University propose that inadequate growth hormone and dysfunction of the stress-response system (HPA axis) may lead to inflammation of the fascia. The inflammation may then cause constant bombardment of the brain with pain signals, which can lead to central sensitization. They say that fascial inflammation is likely a dysfunctional healing response.

If their hypothesis is confirmed, researchers say this could lead to treatment recommendations including Rolfing and myofascial release. (Both of these treatments are already used by many people with the condition. While some people say they help, others say they've made symptoms worse.) This research also challenges the common belief that fibromyalgia is not an inflammatory condition.

This research doesn't surprise me. As many of us do, I have myofascial pain syndrome and believe that it contributed to my fibromyalgia. As my myofascial pain has been reduced through acupuncture, my fibromyalgia pain has gone down as well.

Do you believe pain in the fascia lead to your fibromyalgia? Have you been helped by treatments aimed at the connective tissues? Leave a comment below!

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo A.D.A.M.

June 12, 2010 at 11:05 am
(1) Benjamin says:

my wife has had this for 12 years and tried acupuncture. the first therapist helped for a while then she switched to another and that helped a while, then it quit, too… she has tried all the drugs on the table and it just gets a little bit worse every year…. & my daughter [from another wife] has it, too… exercise doesn’t help no matter what everyone says,,, they probably don’t have it as bad as my family. my wife had danced 1 1/2 square dances and was down for a week in bed because of the pain… hopefully, something soon benjamin

May 4, 2011 at 7:59 am
(2) Logan says:

It is a relief to hear that exercise doesn’t help someone other than me, I’ve had fibromyalgia since I was 15, and I’m almost 25 now. I couldn’t stay in HS and had to finish at home, and I’ve been unable to go to college or have a job. I’ve done pretty much everything out there to try and find relief, and Monica does help, I learned how much when I had to stop taking it for a week because of bleeding, I had to get my last wisdom teeth out. I’ve tried exercise and I’ve had at least 4 different physical therapists over the years, and it never helped, yet that is the first thing medical professionals say is most important, and all I want to do is scream, it doesn’t &@$!ing work! Nothing really does, I’ve tried all the meds. So thanks once again for helping me feel a little more sane.

June 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm
(3) Heidi says:

I feel that I pretty much could have told them the connection between myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia a long time ago. I’ve had both, as well as CFS for about 20 years. I have also tried every treatment and medication practically known but none have really done much good. The best thing I do for myself is keep my brain as active as possible to try to ignore the pain and fatigue. And of course, I sleep a lot, which I’ve learned to accept. Thank you for the article…it helps to know I’m not the only one. And for anyone who is new to these problems…..hang in there. I promise it is possible to have a life in spite of these issues and you are still an important person! You are not defined by what you do but rather by who you are!

June 12, 2010 at 6:03 pm
(4) ron williams says:

I moved to Thailand for cheap massages. They helped a lot. The only problem they didn’t really do much till I had 300+ hrs of them. In 3 hr sessions
I had approximately 1200 hrs. When I came back to the US it wasn’t long till the pain returned.
I have both FM and CMP and have had them for 53 years.

June 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm
(5) fogmom says:

There used to be a massage school closeby where I could get massages for $30 for an hour. A rate I could afford and one I understand not being viable for masseuses. It did help, I always asked for deep massages for fibromyalgia. It wasn’t a cure all but it made a definite difference.

June 14, 2010 at 10:18 pm
(6) Mary says:

I very much believe this theory could prove to be true. I have had a LOT of trouble with myofacial pain syndrome. This theory makes a lot of sense.

I have other factors that contribute to my intense chronic pain. I sure hope that reserachers will get more money so they can carry out their studies.

I wish doctors would believe us more about the intensity, duration, and frequency of our pain. They need to be able to “see” our pain more on scans and so forth. I hope the brain studies continue!

Thanks so much for publishing this for us. It was very helpful.

June 18, 2010 at 8:56 am
(7) pattie says:

Thanks for the article. I’ve had ME, Fibro, myofacial pain syndrome, IBS, migraine, etc., for more than 10 yrs. In regard to MPS,I recently decided to lose weight by resuming my walking 30 mins/day. I did this for 4 days until I could no longer bear to stand on my feet due to the pain. I read somewhere that there’s a tissue called neuroma covering the entire bottom of the foot and it can become inflamed. Has anyone heard of this or what to do about it, besides not standing or walking? I want to try again, but at a very much shorter duration. Thanks, Pattie

June 19, 2010 at 7:32 am
(8) Sharon Levin says:

Most certainly a thumbs up for eventual RESEARCH that will endorse myofascial pain release – rolfing, Feldenkrais, Bowen, Post Grad Trained Physio Myo, Graduate Myofascial Chiropractitioners have pioneered this assistance along with Cranio Sacral Therapy (add in CS thus not only 1 discipline to break through thedominant pain the fascia cause). This has been written about 2000, and updated 2002 by Devin Starlynyl – THE DOYAN OF MYOFASCIA PAIN THERAPIES AND HER 2 BOOKS ARE INVALUABLE – ‘CHRONIC MYOFASCIAL PAIN AND FM’ by herself and Mary-Anne Copeland – 2nd edition best -greeen cover. I think no one with our conditions will ever again question Myofascialpain, the range of therapies and their abilities to, with altered lifestyle and diet and aqua and bio kinetics (eg) rehab exercise therapy. One cannot have the ‘whole piece of the wellness pie’ if all disciplines are not taken so seriously by the sufferer. Best of luck. THEY all works!! SHARON LEVINwww.fibromyalgiasa.co.za.PS Myofascial release via p/g physio began 15 yrs ago, Feldenkrais from Holland same, Myo Chiro 6 yrs ago, Bowen same periods, Cranio Sacral 5 yrs for this condition alone and then for FM – 1000′s of sufferers are no longer because of the multi-disciplined treatments which incorporate Myofascial release at top of list for those who suffer from ONLY MFPS, AND FM+MFPS

June 19, 2010 at 7:47 am
(9) sHARON lEVIN says:

Pattie – so sorry for your predicament but in Fm with MPS, until the areas of MP have been sorted out correctly (no acupuncture/reflexology/massage allowed), ALONG WITH A DIET THAT ERADICATES ALL SUGARS, WHEAT, WHITES, LACTOSE, GLUTEN AND NON-TAP WATER, CAFFEINE, TANNIN ESPECIALLY, the neuroma you correctly name will not give you a break and walking (head, on top of shoulders, on top of torso, on top of upper and lower legs, NO MATTER YOUR WEIGHT), inform the CNS and Hypothalmic areas of brain along with the Musckular System to DYSFUNCTION YOUR ABILITY TO have a flexible tissue movement and ENCOURAGE THE TrP’S to inlame and ‘LOCK” around the main Tender Points (2) in the soles of your feet. I am sure you have not been offered the opportunity to BEGIN your pain depletion with an OT Physiatrist who will work with, teaching specific Multiple Dystrophy-type ball exercises, to strengthen the TOES, plant fasciada, instep, ball of foot and work upwards towards achelles tendon area, anklestretches, and rest of leg and body breathing and stretching that is appropriate for this condition. I am so sorry when one puts the cart before the horse and then has to pay with more pain, just because NO ONE TOLD YOU THE CORRECT WAY TO ADDRESS SUCH STRESSED AND TAUGHT MYOFASCIA. I do hope you find the correct therapist to work with you and DO NOT WALK, EVEN WHEN IMPROVING, EXCEPT FOR AROUND A GARDEN IN GOOD NIKE’S WALKING SHOES.Sharon Levin. http://www.fibromyalgiasa.co.za

June 21, 2010 at 9:12 pm
(10) Brenda says:

About the tight feet, I have this and have found relief with the following: reflexology foot massage, rolling my feet on a foot roller or hard spiky ball, but then I decided to pull out my Tens machine, and on a gentle vibration, long pads on the top and bottom of the foot, I have made the most progress after only 2 sessions of half an hour each. Can’t tell you how good it is not to have those foot cramps all night. Now I’m moving those pads up the shins and calves and into the ITB each day.
I also take tumeric tabs, strong fish oils and a variety of other minerals and antioxidents. Pilates and yoga are great, stretching is so good. The really slow deep breathing is very calming.We all have to calm down.

July 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm
(11) Marilyn says:

I have had Fibro, CIFIDS, and MPS for over 15 years. The Fibro and MPS and almost one and the same for me. I have had the most pain relief by having injections into the trigger points, stretching and massage. I have been on pain medication and muscle relaxers as well for many years.

December 31, 2010 at 9:28 pm
(12) Tricia says:

I do believe that a low level of inflammation is occurring in the fascia and the reason that a lot of people find little relief in treatment of trigger points is that perpetuating factors are not being taken into account. I really do wish that people would stop beating around the bush and admit that trigger points are a part of the FM process (despite the fact that they occur in normals). I have treated my own trigger points and the perpetuating factors to a point where I take no prescription medication whatsoever, only dietary supplements. I never take pain medication. The most important perpetuating factors in FM, I believe, are lack of nutrient intake and hormonal imbalance. Conventional HRT will not address the hormonal issue and I have found that even bio-identical hormones are not the answer as one is only guessing the hormone mix. I take the dietary supplement, pregnenolone, which allows the body to choose how the hormones will be balanced but a high nutrient intake is essential for the body to produce the conversion enzymes.

January 6, 2011 at 10:52 pm
(13) Leslie says:

I believe I may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or Fibromyalgia. I won’t go into all of the symptoms but I’m constantly fatigued and weakened with body aches/pains throughout my body along with stiffness and reduced range of motion. The aches/pains are intermittent and feel much like flu symptoms. I finally broached the subject with my doctor but she said no, it’s neither of these conditions. It may be an uphill battle trying to convince the docs of my having these conditions, so in the meantime, I’m just trying to take care of myself the best I can.

April 21, 2011 at 6:44 am
(14) Ruth says:

My comment is directed to Leslie and others that have/think they have FM/MPS.

It’s important to listen really well to your body and give it what it is telling you it needs and educate yourself as much as possible. Keep looking for a local doctor that will listen, is knowledgable and treats FM/MPS & see if there is a FM support group in your area.

I believe all the treatment suggestions noted above are really good. I’ve recently changed my diet (no inflammatory foods for me); started treating my own trigger points & thickened fascia; go to a great sports rehab doctor 1x/wk to help reteat trigger points located deep within my neck; gently started Hot Yoga; try to get 7-8 hrs sleep/day; take magnesium; and try to avoid stress. I’ve been doing these for 4 weeks now and I am already starting to feel better. Not so good days are getting fewer and farther between.

My personal situation: I had whiplash, followed by an accident to my wrist; was at the computer a lot without taking a break/stretching; then, completely fatigued,started working out to get more energy so that I could continue “pushing on”.

A hypothesis I have is I didn’t listen to my body for a long time. I just keep “driving and pushing” and then my body gave up; however my brain started going in “overdrive” or “haywire” telling my muscles / body to keep going. I also have a hypothesis that the longer this goes on the more trigger points you will have (ie a domino effect).

I’m going to train myself to slow down…. to say “not now” to myself and others. I’m going to try train my brain to relax too.

Off to do Hot Yoga now…. I wish everyone reading this all the best.

Ruth from Canada

June 6, 2011 at 5:37 pm
(15) Alicia says:

I hope by now that you have gotten have a diagnosis. One thing I’ve learned over the years is we have to be our own advocates because we are the only ones that know for sure exactly what is going on in our bodies. I have had Chronic Daily migraine pain since I was 16. I finally found out why when I was 26 I started to have symptoms for fibromyalgia. Its weird actually I remember back in high school when I was doing research on migraines I even read about fibro but because of the symptoms I knew I didn’t have it. At that time I didn’t have all over body pain like today. I got quite an education at a young age on doctors and hospitals all across the country. I learned quickly and it has paid off to help me now. The best to do when you feel like you have reached the end of your rope with one doctor is to ask for a referral to a specialist. Its a natural thing to do. You need to know whats going on. At some point all of us were sent to a Rheumatologist it probably happened in many different ways. I hope you find an answer.

May 14, 2011 at 8:31 am
(16) Susan McIntyre says:

I am a walking bundle of myofascial triggers, and it took 15 years for a Dr to finally treat it with trigger point injections. I can walk again, which was too painful to do before. I find the connection to inflammation interesting, as one of my pain relievers is an NSAID. That explains a lot, considering it has been very helpful. I skip it, the pain increases.

July 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm
(17) John Williams says:

Fascial inflammation in about 30-40 percent is a result of a fungal infection. As well fascial is a trauma center for the body it holds both trauma and fungal growth. For many the key to better over health is to elimanate sugar from the diet. My suggestion is to fast one day a week and start there and the day you fast is to drink water and see a myofascial release therapist. My other suggestion is to complete fascial stretching, these stretches are not for 10-30 seconds but 3-5 minutes and there are some really good information on that being published.
You also need to reduce sugar, salt, caffeine from the diet for these stimulate fungal growth in the fascial lining. I dare say if you do all of the above you will notice an improvement in months and if you are really diligent I would also detox often and look at some good detox agents.

September 28, 2012 at 9:40 pm
(18) HypoGal says:

Thank you so much for posting this article. I definitely believe there is a link between connective tissue n ME.
I recently developed Relapsing Polychondtris which is a inflammatory disease. I am sure my Sheehan’s Syndrome, ME n RP are all connected.

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