IT feels like death by a thousand needles. That’s how some experts describe the sensation of living with fibromyalgia.

Other symptoms include extreme fatigue, headaches, lack of concentration, and muscle stiffness. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition thought to affect up to a 1.7 million Britons – mainly women over 40 – and it is becoming more common.

But 69-year-old Josie Burton of Bournemouth has found a drug-free way to help quell the agony.

Every week the former school teacher treats herself to a deep tissue massage at the Hallmark Hotel in the West Cliff.

“Massage is a holistic treatment and can help people in many ways. It works by helping to eliminate toxins that build up in the body,” explains her therapist Lisa Norris.

“I can usually feel the knots in Josie’s lower back and shoulders but some days just touching her skin causes her discomfort.”

But as far as Josie is concerned, it’s no pain, no gain.

“It has to hurt to be effective. If I could afford it I would have a massage every day because it gives me 24 hours of relief when I don’t have to take any pain killers.”

There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, because the cause is unknown. It can also be a difficult condition to diagnose because there is no specific test and the symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions.

“It affects everyone in different ways so people find different ways to cope,” adds Josie. “For me the worst part is the extreme tiredness. It’s as though a fog has descended on you.”

But Josie who also battled breast cancer in 1997, has vowed that she won’t let it beat her.

“I am determined to live life to the full as best as I can.”