Efficacy of Shiatsu For Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Study shows shiatsu increases pain relief and sleep for those suffering fibromyalgia. In addition shiatsu improves mental and emotional equilibrium.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that affects the muscles, joints, and soft tissue. It’s incredibly painful and sadly, some health practitioners don’t fully understand what causes it or how to treat it. Often sufferers are made to feel like “it’s all in your head”.


Once diagnosed, health practitioners recommend strong anti-inflammatory medication that works initially to reduce pain. For most sufferers, this is an interim fix until the body becomes accustomed to the medication and then a stronger dose or another medication is recommended, which can lead to unwanted side effects and further health issues.

In the pilot study, half of the 34 fibromyalgia patients received 40-minute full-body shiatsu massage sessions twice a week. After 8 weeks, the group that underwent shiatsu therapy reported improved sleep quality, decreased sensitivity to pain, and lowered intensity of pain, although anxiety level was unchanged.
“What shiatsu and acupressure help do is lower cortisol levels, which can help correct the sleep cycle and keep it consistent, says Tasneem Bhatia, MD, medical director and founder of the Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine. “If patients aren’t sleeping they’ll experience more pain and more pressure.”

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