Role of Fascia in Causing Fibromyalgia Pain


New Book, “Figuring Out Fibromyalgia,” Offers Scientific Evidence on Cause of Fibromyalgia Pain

Ginevra Liptan, M.D., who developed fibromyalgia while a medical student at Tufts University School of Medicine, shows in her new book, “Figuring Out Fibromyalgia: Current Science and the Most Effective Treatments” (Visceral Books 2011), scientific evidence that dysfunction in the fascia, the connective tissue surrounding the muscle, causes the muscle pain in fibromyalgia. The book provides state-of-the-art understanding of the role of fascia in fibromyalgia muscle pain and its effective treatment. Dr. Liptan is also the founder and medical director of The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia in Portland, Oregon. On National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, May 12, the Frida Center will be hosting its grand opening, with an appearance and book signing with Dr. Liptan.

Until recently, the role of fascia has been ignored. Many doctors may not even be familiar with the fascia because it is barely mentioned in medical textbooks. Dr. Liptan, who developed fibromyalgia while a medical student at Tufts University School of Medicine, found pain relief with manual therapy directed at the fascia. Her personal experience with myofascial release therapy led her to suspect fascia as the source of pain in fibromyalgia. As an associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University, she is currently directing a study comparing myofascial release to traditional massage for fibromyalgia. She has published several papers on the subject, including “Fascia: A missing link in our understanding of the pathology of fibromyalgia.”

“Previous studies that found no abnormalities in fibromyalgia muscles were only looking at the muscle cells themselves and not at the connective tissue wrapping around the muscles,” Dr. Liptan writes. Some intriguing muscle biopsy studies have found evidence of inflammation in the fascia in people with fibromyalgia that are “similar to muscles that have run a marathon—but without the marathon,” says Dr. Liptan.

European study reports fascia therapy reduces fibromyalgia pain

Research on the role of fascia in contributing to pain has exploded over the past few years, beginning with a scientific conference at Harvard University in 2007 which was a unique combination of researchers and bodyworkers with a common interest in the fascia. The most recent study was published earlier this year in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The European study included 74 women with fibromyalgia who were randomly assigned to receive myofascial release treatments or “sham” magnet therapy over a 20-week treatment period. Researchers reported that this specialized form of massage therapy focusing on the fascia significantly reduced fibromyalgia pain, even as long as one month after the last treatment, suggesting this therapy provides more than just temporary pain relief.

“I am encouraged that this groundbreaking study addresses broadening treatment options for fibromyalgia, and may help us understand the source of the muscle pain in this controversial and poorly understood condition,” said Dr. Liptan.

National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day – Book launch & grand opening of The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia

In addition to her practice as a board certified internist, Dr. Ginevra Liptan is also the founder and medical director of The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia, an integrative medical clinic utilizing an evidence-based approach from current scientific research.

The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia will celebrate its grand opening on National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, May 12 from 5:00–7:00 pm, with an appearance and book signing of “Figuring Out Fibromyalgia” by Dr. Liptan.

Written with the scientific credibility of a doctor and the compassion of someone “on the inside” who has spent many years using herself as a guinea-pig in a search for effective treatments, “Figuring Out Fibromyalgia” sheds light on new evidence on the causes of fibromyalgia, and which alternative therapies are supported by research.

The Frida Center is named after Frida Kahlo, an early 20th century Mexican artist who is thought to have suffered from fibromyalgia. Her renowned self-portrait entitled “The Broken Column,” with multiple nails piercing her body, is believed to be an accurate description of the chronic widespread pain and multiple tender points that characterizes fibromyalgia.