Massage Therapy Techniques as Pain Management for Erythromelalgia: A Case Report

  • Krista Dicks, BA, RMT, CLT
  • Philippe Rizek, BSc, MSc, MD
Keywords: Erythromelalgia, massage therapy, pain management


Background: Erythromelalgia is characterized by temperature-dependent redness, pain, and warmth in one or more extremities. It may be a primary disease, or it may occur secondarily because of underlying illness. It is a chronic, debilitating condition often resistant to medical treatment. Purpose: The present report evaluates massage as a complementary therapy to reduce pain and other symptoms associated with erythromelalgia. Participant: A 31-year-old female with a long-standing history of erythromelalgia bilaterally in the lower extremities presented with complaints of acute pain exacerbation, anxiety, decreased quality of sleep, and difficulty with activities of daily living for prolonged periods of time. She had no previous experience with massage therapy or any other complementary therapies. Intervention: Massage therapy was introduced over the course of 9 treatments, each 1 hour in duration, using various massage therapy techniques, remedial exercise, and recommended home care. Results: In this patient with erythromelalgia, effleurage and petrissage as massage therapy techniques provided temporary pain relief in the lower extremities and long-term benefits that relieved anxiety, which improved restorative sleep and increased the patient’s participation in activities of daily living. Conclusions: For this treatment protocol, therapist observation and patient feedback suggest that massage therapy may lead to a state of increased relaxation, decreased stress, decreased muscle tension, and improved sleep. These positive effects may have an indirect role in the ability of the patient to cope with erythromelalgia day to day.

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How to Cite
Dicks, BA, RMT, CLT, K., & Rizek, BSc, MSc, MD, P. (2010). Massage Therapy Techniques as Pain Management for Erythromelalgia: A Case Report. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork Research Education &Amp; Practice, 3(4), 5–9.