Fibromyalgia is a syndrome most commonly associated with chronic pain. The National Fibromyalgia Association estimates that 3-6% of the world population is affected by this syndrome, 10 million of those people in the U.S. According to the American College of Rheumatology, even though this condition can affect any gender, race, or age, middle aged women comprise about 80% of this population.
The most prevalent symptom is chronic widespread pain and tenderness in muscles,joints and soft tissue. Fatigue and sleep disturbances are also experienced. Specific causes are unknown and there are no diagnostic laboratory tests to make a correct diagnosis. Physicians have to rely on patient’s self reported symptoms, history, and a physical exam manually checking 18 specific tender points.
Due to the difficult nature of fibromyalgia it takes a team effort from the patient and all their health care professionals to work toward the common goal of relief from pain and other symptoms involved. Treatment may include physical therapy, light massage, and manual lymphatic drainage. Several studies have yielded positive results for manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). This technique brought relief from pain and stiffness as well as helping to induce better nights of sleep. A controlled study was done to compare connective tissue massage and MLD. Over all, MLD provided the best results.