Connective tissue massage combined with exercise was shown to reduce fibromyalgia-associated symptoms and to improve quality of life in women in a recent study published in Rheumatology International.1

To evaluate the effectiveness of connective tissue massage for fibromyalgia symptoms and quality of life, researchers randomly assigned women to a 6-week exercise regimen with or without connective tissue massage. Outcomes included pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances, all assessed with visual analog scales. Health status and quality of life were evaluated with the Turkish versions of the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) and the Short Form-36, respectively.

Participants in the exercise-only group reported improvements in pain, fatigue, and sleep. Similarly, the following health status subdomains from the FIQ were significantly improved from baseline: “days felt good,” work missed, work impairment, pain, fatigue, morning tiredness, stiffness, and anxiety. Depression and physical impairment were not reported as improving with exercise alone.

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Exercise plus connective tissue massage was associated with improvements in pain, fatigue, and sleep problems, as well as all subdomains of the FIQ evaluation of health status. Compared with exercise alone, the addition of connective tissue massage was associated with improvements in pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and role limitations as a result of physical health. No adverse events were noted in either group.

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In conclusion, the study authors noted that “combined exercises with and without [connective tissue massage] might be effective for reducing pain, fatigue and sleep problem while increasing the health status and quality of life in patients with [fibromyalgia]. In addition, exercises with [connective tissue massage] might be superior in improving pain, fatigue and sleep problem, and role limitations due to physical health related to quality of life compared to exercise alone.”

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  1. Toprak Celenay S, Anaforoglu Kulunkoglu B, Yasa ME, et al. A comparison of the effects of exercises plus connective tissue massage to exercises alone in women with fibromyalgia syndrome: a randomized controlled trial [published online August 24, 2017]. Rheumatol Int. doi: 10.1007/s00296-017-3805-3