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The effectiveness of hydrotherapy in the management of fibromyalgia syndrome: A systematic review


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Hydrotherapy is often used in the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), however there has been limited evaluation of its effectiveness. The aim of this systematic review was therefore to examine the effectiveness of hydrotherapy in the management of FMS. AMED, BNI, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, MEDLINE, ProQuest, PubMed, Science Direct and Web of Science were searched (1990-July 2006). Key words used 'fibromyalgia' and 'hydrotherapy', 'balneotherapy', 'aqua therapy', 'pool therapy', 'water therapy', 'swimming', 'hydrogalvanic', 'spa therapy', 'physiotherapy', 'physical therapy' and 'rehabilitation'. Searches were supplemented with hand searches of selected journals. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were assessed for methodological quality using the van Tulder scale. Ten RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Mean methodological quality was 4.5/9 on the van Tulder scale. Positive outcomes were reported for pain, health-status and tender point count. There is strong evidence for the use of hydrotherapy in the management of FMS.
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The effectiveness of hydrotherapy in the management
of fibromyalgia syndrome: a systematic review
Joseph G. McVeigh ÆHelen McGaughey Æ
Melissa Hall ÆPatricia Kane
Received: 1 May 2008 / Accepted: 1 August 2008
Springer-Verlag 2008
Abstract Hydrotherapy is often used in the treatment of
fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), however there has been
limited evaluation of its effectiveness. The aim of this
systematic review was therefore to examine the effective-
ness of hydrotherapy in the management of FMS. AMED,
BNI, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, MED-
LINE, ProQuest, PubMed, Science Direct and Web of
Science were searched (1990–July 2006). Key words used
‘fibromyalgia’ and ‘hydrotherapy’, ‘balneotherapy’, ‘aqua
therapy’, ‘pool therapy’, ‘water therapy’, ‘swimming’,
‘hydrogalvanic’, ‘spa therapy’, ‘physiotherapy’, ‘physical
therapy’ and ‘rehabilitation’. Searches were supplemented
with hand searches of selected journals. Randomised con-
trolled trials (RCTs) were assessed for methodological
quality using the van Tulder scale. Ten RCTs met the
inclusion criteria. Mean methodological quality was 4.5/9
on the van Tulder scale. Positive outcomes were reported
for pain, health-status and tender point count. There is
strong evidence for the use of hydrotherapy in the man-
agement of FMS.
Keywords Fibromyalgia Hydrotherapy
Systematic review Physiotherapy
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic non-articular
rheumatological condition characterised by widespread
musculoskeletal pain, increased pain at tender points and is
often accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue, non-
restorative sleep, stiffness, depression and anxiety [1].
Although figures vary to some extent, in western society
FMS has an estimated prevalence of 2%; affecting women
(3.4%) six times more commonly than men (0.5%) [2].
Management of FMS is difficult and treatment is predom-
inantly symptomatic, consequently a wide variety of
interventions are used in the management of the condition
[3,4]. In a recent comprehensive review of the effectiveness
of a variety of pharmacological and non-pharmacological
interventions in FMS, Goldenberg et al. [3] found that with
respect to medications there was strong evidence for the use
of tricyclic antidepressants, modest evidence for Tramadol
and a number of duel serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake
inhibitors in FMS.
With respect to the non-pharmacological interventions,
exercise intervention constitutes one of the mainstays of
FMS management, and commonly includes hydrotherapy
interventions [5]. Indeed a survey of the physiotherapy
management of patients with FMS in Northern Ireland
reported that exercise and hydrotherapy were the most
commonly used treatment approaches [6]. A number of
reviews have investigated the importance of physical
exercise in this condition [5,710]. Busch et al. [7] for
example, reported that there was moderate to strong evi-
dence that exercise interventions produced only short-term
J. G. McVeigh (&)
School of Health Sciences, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Research Institute, University of Ulster,
Newtownabbey BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland, UK
H. McGaughey P. Kane
Physiotherapy Department, Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast
Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
M. Hall
Physiotherapy Department, Craigavon Area Hospital, Southern
Health and Social Care Trust, Portadown, Northern Ireland, UK
Rheumatol Int
DOI 10.1007/s00296-008-0674-9
improvements in fitness and tender point pain in those with
FMS. They also concluded that the effects of aerobic
training on pain, fatigue, and sleep are weak and incon-
sistent. Similarly in a comprehensive review of the non-
pharmacological management of FMS (25 RCTs) Sim and
Adams [8] reported that strong evidence did not emerge for
any single intervention. However, they reported that there
was preliminary support for the use of aerobic exercise in
the management of FMS, particularly when delivered as
part of a multimodal package. More recently Jones et al. [9]
in a review of 46 exercise based studies, which included
seven exclusively pool-based studies, reported that the
strongest evidence supported the role of exercise in the
management of FMS symptoms. However, van Koulil et al.
[10] in a review of 30 RCTs of cognitive behavioural
therapies and exercise programmes for FMS concluded that
non-pharmacological treatment interventions in FMS have
only limited effects.
Although hydrotherapy interventions have been inclu-
ded in the cited reviews [5,811], only Gowans and
deHueck [12] have specifically investigated the effects of
hydrotherapy in FMS. However, this review included only
those studies (eight RCTs) where participants had pool
based exercise; hydrotherapy without exercise was not
included in the Gowans and deHueck [12] review conse-
quently no conclusions on the benefits or otherwise of
hydrotherapy alone can be made. The aim of this current
review therefore was to evaluate the effectiveness of all
hydrotherapy interventions in the management of patients
with FMS.
An electronic database search of AMED, BNI, CINAHL,
The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, MEDLINE, ProQuest,
PubMed, Science Direct and Web of Science was conducted
in July 2006. In order to try to standardize the patient sample
included, the search was conducted from 1990 (the date of
publication of the American College of Rheumatology’s
(ACR) classification criteria for FMS [1]) to July 2006.
Searches were also limited to human trials published in the
English language. Key words searched, in combination
with ‘fibromyalgia’ (e.g. fibromyalgia and hydrotherapy),
were ‘hydrotherapy’, ‘balneotherapy’, ‘aqua therapy’, ‘pool
therapy’, ‘water therapy’, ‘swimming’, ‘hydrogalvanic’,
‘spa therapy’, ‘physiotherapy’, ‘physical therapy’ and
The database search was supplemented by a manual
search of: The Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, British
Medical Journal, Physiotherapy, Arthritis and Rheumatism,
Rheumatology, Journal of Rheumatology, Clinical Journal
of Rheumatology and Physical Therapy. Journals were
searched from 1990 - June 2005. Reference lists of all
relevant articles were examined for additional studies.
After reviewing the abstracts, articles were classified
highly relevant, moderately relevant or irrelevant. Highly
relevant articles were RCTs in which intervention subjects
had a form of water-based therapy, and all participants
were diagnosed with FMS. Moderately relevant articles
were those that failed to meet the ‘highly relevant’ criteria
yet provided background information regarding FMS. All
other articles were deemed irrelevant to this review.
Inclusion/exclusion criteria
To be included in the review, studies had to be an RCT, in
the English language; participants had to be at least
18 years of age and had to be diagnosed with FMS
according to the 1990 ACR criteria [1]. Additionally the
treatment group had to have undertaken a water-based
intervention which constituted more than 50% of the
treatment, furthermore the control group must not have
participated in water-based activity. Participants should
have been assessed in at least one of three outcomes: pain,
function, or quality of life (QoL); and participants should
have been followed up for a minimum of 6 weeks post
intervention. Articles were excluded if insufficient infor-
mation was available to permit methodological evaluation
or if complex multimodal programmes were used. Articles
were also excluded if participants had any concomitant
medical condition.
Three reviewers (MH, HMcG, PK) independently applied
the inclusion/exclusion criteria to papers identified from the
literature search as highly relevant before combining results.
A consensus method was used to solve any dispute regarding
the inclusion or exclusion of a study. A fourth reviewer was
consulted (JMcV) to resolve disagreements.
Methodological quality
Articles fulfilling the inclusion criteria were subsequently
assessed for methodological quality using the criteria list and
operational instructions outlined and recommended by van
Tulder et al. [13] (Table 1). This list, originally devised for
back pain was modified in its terminology for FMS. The van
Tulder scale assesses internal validity criteria, descriptive
criteria and statistical criteria. Each criterion was scored yes
(Y), no (N) or do not know (DK) with an answer of yes
scoring one point. Due to the nature of the intervention
neither the patient nor the care provider can be blinded to the
intervention, therefore two of the van Tulder criteria (e and h;
Table 1) were not included in the overall scoring; the max-
imum score available was therefore 17. For the purpose of
Rheumatol Int
this review the internal validity criteria as recommended by
van Tulder et al. [14] was used to determine overall quality
with a maximum score of nine available. RCTs scoring
greater than 50% (C5 of 9) were arbitrarily considered high
quality, and those scoring\5, low quality [13]. A pilot test of
the scale as recommended by van Tulder et al. [13] was
performed on selected articles not included in the review to
ensure all reviewers agreed on a common interpretation of
the scale items and their operationalisation.
Each article was scored independently by three
reviewers (MH, HMcG, PK), findings compared, and
again a fourth reviewer (JMcV) was consulted to resolve
Data extraction
Data extraction was completed independently by three
reviewers (MH, HMcG, PK) to ensure no significant
information was omitted, a combined extraction table was
then compiled (Table 2).
Study outcomes
The outcome of each study was determined by the results
of the primary outcome measures, i.e. those examining
pain, function and QoL. A study was rated positive if
participants receiving the intervention demonstrated
greater improvements over the control group. Conversely,
a study was deemed negative if there were no between-
group differences, or if the control group exhibited greater
improvements. Finally, if contradictory results existed
between outcome measures, studies were deemed
Due to the heterogeneous nature of the interventions, a
meta-analysis was considered inappropriate, and a quali-
tative review was undertaken. Conclusions regarding the
effectiveness of each modality, and hydrotherapy as a
whole were drawn based on a rating system commonly
used in systematic reviews [16].
Strong evidence—multiple relevant, high quality RCTs
with generally consistent findings.
Moderate evidence—generally consistent findings in
one relevant, high quality RCT and one or more
relevant, low quality RCTs or by generally consistent
findings in multiple low quality RCTs.
Limited or conflicting evidence—one relevant RCT (of
high or low quality) or inconsistent findings in multiple
No evidence—no RCTs available.
Table 1 Criteria list for
methodological quality
assessment (van Tulder et al.
Internal validity criteria: b, e, f,
g, h, i, j, l, n, p
Descriptive criteria: a, c, d, k, m
Statistical criteria: o, q
Patient selection
(a) Were the eligibility criteria specified? Y/N/DK
(b) Treatment allocation
1) Was a method of randomisation performed?
2) Was the group allocation concealed?
(c) Were the groups similar at baseline regarding the most important prognostic indicators? Y/N/DK
(d) Were the index and control interventions explicitly described? Y/N/DK
(e) Was the care provider blinded to the intervention? Y/N/DK
(f) Were co-interventions avoided or comparable? Y/N/DK
(g) Was the compliance acceptable in all groups? Y/N/DK
(h) Was the patient blinded to the intervention? Y/N/DK
(i) Was the outcome assessor blinded to the intervention? Y/N/DK
(j) Were the outcome measures relevant? Y/N/DK
(k) Were adverse effects described? Y/N/DK
(l) Was the withdrawal/dropout rate described and acceptable? Y/N/DK
(m) Timing follow-up measurements
1) Was a short-term follow-up measurement performed?
2) Was a long-term follow-up measurement performed?
(n) Was the timing of the outcome assessment in both groups comparable? Y/N/DK
(o) Was the sample size for each group described? Y/N/DK
(p) Did the analysis include-an-intention to treat analysis? Y/N/DK
(q) Were point estimates and measures of variability presented for the primary outcome? Y/N/DK
Rheumatol Int
Table 2 Data extraction table
Author Sample
Dropouts Referral source Intervention Outcome measures Patient
follow up
Results/comments Internal
Buskila et al.
A: 24
B: 24
Outpatient clinic A: Balneotherapy: 20 min in sulphur pool at
37C910 days
B: No treatment
Both groups stayed at the Dead Sea for 10 days
-VAS: for pain,
depression, fatigue,
morning stiffness
and global well-
10 days
1 month
post Rx
3 months
post Rx
Significant between group improvements in pain and TPC
in favour of A. Still seen after 3 months. Significant
improvements in pain, fatigue, stiffness, anxiety,
function (FDI) over time in A ?B, persisting for at
least 3 months in A. Reduction of TPP for both.
Conclusion: Balneotherapy found to be effective and safe
in the management of FMS.
(outcome: positive)
et al. [34]
A: 16
Outpatient clinic A: Spa Therapy: thermal
pool baths 36 ±1C920 min 96 days/week for
2 weeks. Pressurized shower at 37C or classical massage,
for 15 min each on alternate days
B: No treatment
Both groups continued with their regular medication
-VAS: pain, anxiety,
fatigue, well-being,
sleep problems,
-Point pressure
2 weeks
1 month
post Rx
3 months
post Rx
6 months
post Rx
9 months
post Rx
Significant between group improvements in FIQ score (up
to 9 months), pain, TPC (1 month), fatigue and global
assessment found in A only. Pain significantly lower at
6?9 mths for A ?B. Significant improvement in
TPC, global assessment, sleep, pain, anxiety, FIQ score,
fatigue and BDI found in A, compared to baseline. Also
sleep, TPC, anxiety, pain, global assessment, gastric
symptoms, fatigue and BDI improved in B. Conclusion:
Spa therapy may improve FIQ score, relieve pain and
decrease tender point count in addition to regular
(outcome: Positive)
Evcik et al.
A: 22
Unknown A: Balneotherapy: at 36C 20 min/day, 59/week for
3 weeks
B: No treatment
Both groups continued normal daily activities
-Digital pressure:
number of tender
-VAS: pain
3 weeks
6 months
post Rx
Statistically significant improvements from baseline for A
and between group improvements in TPC, VAS, BDI
(up to 6 months) and FIQ scores for Group A (up to
6 months, except BDI).
Conclusion: Balneotherapy is effective and a possible
alternative method in managing FMS.
(outcome: positive)
Gowans et al.
A: 23
Physician A: Pool exercise: for 30 mins (at 60–70% max HR) 29/
week, for 6 weeks, comprised of aerobic endurance and
flexibility exercises. Plus 2 1 h MDT educational group
sessions/week 96 weeks.
B: No treatment
-Modified 6MWT
-Borg rate of
perceived exertion
-Knowledge of FMS
6 wks
3 mths post
Significant improvements in aerobic capacity (6 MWT),
well-being (FIQ) and fatigue in A compared to B.
Improvements in well-being and aerobic capacity still
found 3 mths post Rx. Significant improvements from
baseline in A for well-being, aerobic capacity, fatigue,
FMS knowledge.
Conclusion: short-term exercise combined with education
can produce immediate and sustained benefits.
(outcome: positive)
Rheumatol Int
Table 2 continued
Author Sample
Dropouts Referral source Intervention Outcome measures Patient
follow up
Results/comments Internal
Gusi et al.
A: 18
B: 17
FM association
A: Pool exercise: 33C for 60 mins, 39/week for
12 weeks, comprised of stretching, aerobic exercise (at
65–75% max HR), mobility & lower limb strengthening
12/52 detraining period post intervention.
B: No treatment- continued normal daily activities
-Isokinetic muscle
-Pain VAS
-Spare time and
work activities
12 weeks
12 weeks
Statistically significant between group improvements in
pain, EQ-5D scale and 4/5 dimensions of EQ-5D
(mobility, self-care, pain/discomfort, anxiety/
depression), concentric strength (left knee flexion and
bilateral knee extension) post intervention in favour of
A. 12/52 post treatment statistically significant
improvements remained in left knee flexors and EQ-5D
self-care and anxiety/depression in addition to eccentric
right knee extension.
Conclusion: Therapy reduced pain and improved HRQOL
and muscle strength.
(outcome: positive)
Jentoft et al.
A: 22
B: 22
GP A: Pool-based exercise: modified Norwegian Aerobic
Fitness Model (pool =34C)
B: Land-based exercises: original Norwegian Aerobic
Fitness Model
(Both groups exercised 60 min 2x/week for 20 weeks.
Consisting of body awareness training, ergonomics, warm-
up, cool-down, stretching and relaxation. 40–50% of
sessions at 60–80% max HR)
-VAS: exercise
induced pain
-Dolorimeter: tender
-Point pain
-Bicycle ergometer:
CV capacity
-Hand held
manometer: grip
-Shoulder muscle
-Walking time over
100 m
20 weeks
6 months
post Rx
Both groups: significant within group improvements in
fatigue, stiffness, CV capacity ?walking time. A:
additional within group improvements in physical
impairment, days feeling good, pain, anxiety and
depression. Only statistically significant difference
between groups was improved grip strength in favour of
B. At 6 months grip strength deteriorated in A and CV
capacity in B. At 6 months: 85% participating in regular
physical activity.
Conclusion: Physical capacity can be improved with
exercise. Exercising in a pool may offer additional benefits.
(outcome: inconclusive)
et al. [33]
A: 37
B: 32
Primary health care
and rheumatology
A: Pool exercise: 35 min comprised of endurance,
flexibility, co-ordination and relaxation exercises 1/
week for 6 months and 6 91 h education sessions
focusing on coping strategies and importance of
physical activity
B: Control group
(Both groups continued baseline medical treatment
throughout programme)
– SF-36
– QoL questionnaire
– 6 MWT
– Chair test
– Shoulder ROM
– Grip strength
– Shoulder abduction
– Pain diagram
6 mths
6 mths post
24 months
post Rx*
* Reported in
et al. [33]
Significant improvements in FIQ total score, aerobic
performance (6 MWT), grip strength, physical function,
anxiety, depression, general health, social function, pain
severity, distress and quality of life in A compared to B.
At 6 months: significant deterioration in shoulder
function in both groups, and also QoL for B.
Improvements in symptom severity, physical function,
QoL still seen at 6 months post Rx and improvements in
pain, fatigue, walking ability and social function still
evident at 24 months. 50% in A reported increased
activity levels post Rx.
Conclusion: consequences of FM can be improved
following a 6 month programme of pool exercises and
(outcome: positive)
Rheumatol Int
Table 2 continued
Author Sample
Dropouts Referral source Intervention Outcome measures Patient
follow up
Results/comments Internal
et al. [28]
A: 24
B: 24
Outpatient clinic A: Balneotherapy: 20 min daily 910 days in 37C pool
B: Control group: no treatment
(Both groups stayed at the Dead Sea for 10 days)
– SF-36
– Rheumatology
Attitudes index
– VAS scales from the
HAQ for pain,
fatigue, sleep
problems and global
10 days
1 month
Post Rx
3 months
Significant improvement in fatigue in A compared to B.
Both groups improved significantly over time in global
severity, pain, fatigue, 4/8 subscales on SF-36 (up to
3 months), anxiety and depression (returned to baseline
after 3 months). Overall group A reported greater and
longer lasting improvements.
Conclusion: staying at the Dead Sea in addition to
Balneotherapy can improve the QOL in patients with FM.
(outcome: positive)
A: 20
B: 20
Unknown A: Balneotherapy- 20 min/day, 59/week for 2 weeks at
37C, followed by relaxation exercises
B: Relaxation exercises only
– Pain: analogue
– Pressure algometry
scores using
1 kg/cm
– Temperature-rectal
– Blood pressure
– Pulse rate
2 weeks
4 weeks
6 weeks
No between group analysis performed.
Significant changes in pain and pressure scores for group A
at end of treatment and at 2 ?6 weeks. Pain scores
differed significantly at 2 ?6 weeks only in Group B, with
no significant changes in pressure. Conclusion:
Balneotherapy may be used as an alternative treatment for
(outcome: positive)
Zijlstra et al.
A: 84
B: 86
Out-patients A: Spa Rx 7–8 3 h sessions over 15 days involving 4 out
of: Turkish bath; hot packs with algae; massage lying
under shower; whirlpool; underwater jetstream massage;
pool exercise and massage. Plus 7 1 h group exercise
sessions including warm-up, stretching, low impact
aerobic exercise aimed at 70% max HR. Light exercise
B: Control group: continued physician directed Rx as usual
– RAND 36-item
health survey
– VAS- for general
health and sleep
– Tender points score
– Graded tender point
score (4 kg pressure)
– Checklist individual
strength (fatigue)
– Modified 6MWT-
physical fitness and
HR monitoring
Baseline –
1 week
before Rx
Post Rx
3 months
Post Rx
6 months
Post Rx
12 months
Post Rx
A: reported significant improvements in FIQ score, general
health, 6 MWT distance, fatigue, pain, physical
components of RAND-36 compared to B. A: also
improved additionally in sleep, depression scores and all
subscales of RAND-36 from baseline.
Conclusion: A combination of thalassotherapy, exercise
and patient education may provide temporary benefits for
FM symptoms.
(outcome: positive)
6MWT 6 min walk test, AIMS Arthritis impact measurement scales, ASES Arthritis self-efficacy scale, BDI Becks depression index, FM fibromyalgia, FMS fibromyalgia syndrome, FIQ fibromyalgia impact questionnaire, FDI
functional disability index, HAQ health assessment questionnaire, hr hour, HR heart rate, HRQOL health related quality of life, MPQ McGill pain questionnaire, MPQ-DLV p McGill pain questionnaire Dutch language version, min
minute, mth month, MPI-S Swedish version of the multidimensional pain inventory, MDT multidisciplinary team, NS not specified, QoL quality of life, ROM range of movement, Rx treatment, TPC tender point count, TPP tender point
pain, VAS visual analogue scale
Rheumatol Int
Search strategy
The search strategy identified more than 1,900 articles.
Nineteen studies were identified as highly relevant, ten of
which fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were included in
the final review. Nine articles were excluded: five because
the treatment groups main intervention was not water
based [1721], two because they did not undertake a fol-
low-up greater than 6 weeks [22,23], one because
participants had a concomitant chronic disease present and
failed to perform a follow up at six weeks [24], and one
article because the control group participated in water-
based activity [25].
Of the ten articles which met the inclusion/exclusion
criteria interventions used included balneotherapy [2629],
pool exercise [3033] and spa therapy [34,35]. The trials
are summarised in Table 2.
Methodological quality of studies
The methodological quality of the studies ranged from
three to six on the van Tulder scale of internal validity
(Table 3), with a mean of 4.5 (standard deviation 0.92).
The three reviewers agreed on approximately 80% of the
criteria with all disagreements solved by consensus. Four
studies [27,30,32,34] were of high quality, scoring higher
on the van Tulder scale with respect to description of
randomisation, use of co-interventions and in these studies
a long-term follow up was conducted. The six remaining
studies were deemed low quality [26,28,29,31,33,35].
Most studies failed to report or include, an intention to
treat analysis [26,2835] or conceal treatment allocation
[2634]. All participants were randomised in the included
trials, however, only four studies [3235] specified the
method used, one of which [33] described randomisation
by sequential allocation according to age (and symptom
duration) a method deemed inappropriate by van Tulder
et al. [13]. In five studies the outcome assessor was blind
to the intervention [26,28,29,32,34] and five studies
reported on adverse effects. Two reported no side effects
[27,29], and three reported adverse effects including mild
and transient rash [26], sunburn and mild gastroenteritis
[35] and a deterioration in shoulder function [33]. It should
also be noted that failure to report on key information
resulted in 35.6% of the total internal validity criteria
scoring a ‘do not know’ (Table 3).
Participants’ age across the studies ranged from 18 to
72 years, and disease duration ranged from 5.4 months to
42 years. Gowans et al. [31] and Yurtkuran and Celiktas
[29] did not specify the disease duration of participants.
Over 90% of the participants involved in the included
studies were women. Six studies involved women only [26,
28,30,3234] and four studies included both women and
men [27,29,31,35].
Table 3 Methodological quality scores
Study ab(i) b(ii) cdefg hijklm(i) m(ii) nop qInternal validity
Buskila et al. [26]YDK DK YYNYDKNY YYDK YY Y Y DK N 410
Donmez et al. [34]YYY YYNYDKNY YNYYY Y Y DK Y 614
Evcik et al. [27]YDK DK YYNYDKNDK Y Y YYY YYY Y513
Gowans et al. [31]YDK DK YYNNY NDK Y N YYY YYN Y410
Gusi et al. [30]YDK DK YYNYY NDK Y N YYY YYN Y512
Jentoft et al. [32]YYDKNYNYY NY YNNYY YYN Y612
Mannerkorpi et al. [33]YNDKYYNNN NDK Y Y YYY YYN Y311
Neumann et al. [28]YDK DK YNNYDKNY YNDK YY Y Y DK Y 49
Yurtkuran and Celiktas,
Ziljstra et al. [35]YYY YYNNY NDK Y Y NYY N Y DK Y 412
Internal validity criteria: b(i), b(ii), f, g, i, j, l, n, p (e and h excluded)
Descriptive criteria: a, c, d, k, m
Statistical criteria: o, q
DK do not know
Rheumatol Int
The average number of participants in the treatment
group post-randomisation and before any withdrawals was
29 (range 16–84), with only two studies [33,35] having
groups with greater than 25 participants. Three studies
failed to specify if all participants completed the study [26,
28,29], and two studies had drop out rates of 22.7% [32]
and 21.8% [35]. It should be noted that 36 of the 37 par-
ticipants who withdrew/dropped out of the trial by Ziljstra
et al. [35] did so after randomisation but before the start of
treatment. Reasons cited for withdrawing or dropping out
of programmes included: personal reasons (family illness,
time constraints, child care, job implications), patients not
returning for post treatment assessment and the diagnosis
of a concomitant chronic condition.
Duration of interventions ranged from 20 min/day for
10 days [26] to treatment once a week for 6 months [33].
One high quality [27] and three low quality studies [26,28,
29] reported positive outcomes after evaluating the effec-
tiveness of balneotherapy. They found balneotherapy to be
an effective, safe [26] possible alternative treatment for
FMS [27,29] that can improve patients’ QoL [28].
Two studies [26,28] had similar methodology and
subject demographics, however due to the different aims
and outcome measures used in these studies they were
considered separately. Both studies reported a reduction in
FMS related symptoms for up to three months post treat-
ment, and within each study both intervention groups had
significant improvements (P\0.05) over time in pain,
fatigue and anxiety. Evcik et al. [27] also reported signif-
icant between-group improvements in the beck depression
inventory (BDI) score, tender point count (TPC), pain, and
total fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ) score, with
improvements lasting up to 6 months post treatment. Sig-
nificant improvements in TPC, pain [26], and fatigue [28]
were reported by these authors at 3 months.
Within-group improvements were found in pain [2629],
TPC, functional disability index (FDI) score [26], social
functioning, mental health, fatigue, general well being,
anxiety, depression, and vitality [28] with improvements
lasting between 8 weeks [29] and 3 months [26]. These
improvements were greater in the treatment group com-
pared to the control group. Improvements noted in the
control group were explained by temporary changes in
lifestyle combined with a less stressful atmosphere when
staying at the Dead Sea [26,28]. The interventions were
largely comparable, with the exception of Yurtkuran and
Celiktas [29] who incorporated relaxation exercises,
although this was controlled for. Taken together, these
studies demonstrate that there is moderate evidence for the
use of balneotherapy in the treatment of FMS.
Pool-based exercise
Four RCTs evaluated the effect of pool-based exercise in
FMS. One high quality [30] and two low quality [31,33]
studies reported positive findings, and one high quality
study [32] reported inconclusive findings. Treatment ses-
sions ranged from 30 min [31] to 60 min [30,32] and
programme duration from 6 weeks [31] to 6 months [33].
Programmes were similar in nature each including aerobic
and flexibility exercises [3033] with two studies [31,33]
incorporating additional educational sessions.
Gowans et al. [31] found significant between-group
differences (P\0.05) in aerobic capacity and the ‘feel
bad’ and ‘morning fatigue’ subscales of the FIQ in favour
of the treatment group after 6 weeks. Whilst Mannerkorpi
et al. [33] noted significant between-group improvements
(P\0.05) in FIQ-total score, physical function, anxiety, 6-
min walk test, grip strength, general health, social func-
tioning, pain, QoL, depression and affective distress post
treatment for the intervention subjects. Mannerkorpi et al.
[33] also reported a within group deterioration in shoulder
endurance in both groups with an additional decrease in
QoL in the control group. At 24 months, the treatment
group continued to have significant within group
improvements in pain, fatigue, walking and social function
[36]. A between group analysis could not be performed as
the control group were offered the treatment programme
after the initial 6 months.
Gusi et al. [30], using a 12 week pool exercise pro-
gramme, reported significant between group improvements
in pain, EQ-5D score, four out of the five dimensions of
EQ-5D scale (mobility, self-care, pain/discomfort, anxiety/
depression) and concentric strength (left knee flexion
/s) and bilateral knee extension (60
/s) in favour of the
treatment group post intervention. Twelve weeks post
treatment significant improvements remained in left knee
flexors and the EQ-5D self-care and anxiety/depression
subscales in addition to eccentric right knee extension
Jentoft et al. [32] comparing land and pool based exer-
cise interventions, noted more within group differences for
the pool-based group; however, the only between group
significant difference was grip strength (P\0.05), and this
was in favour of the control group.
Three studies concluded [30,31,33] that pool exercise
improves the signs and symptoms of FMS with immediate
and sustained effects. Jentoft et al. [32] recognised that
pool exercise may offer additional benefits but found no
significant differences between performing a land or pool-
Rheumatol Int
based exercise programme. Consequently there is moderate
evidence to support the additional benefits that exercising
in a pool may offer FMS patients.
Spa therapy
Two RCTs, one high quality [34] and one low quality [35],
evaluated spa therapy and reported positive between-group
improvements (P\0.05) in FIQ total score, TPC, fatigue,
and general well being. Between-group improvements
lasted at least three months, with improvements in total
FIQ score still evident at 6 months [34] and improvements
in the modified 6 min walk test still significantly better at
12 months [35]. Ziljstra et al.’s. [35] complex programme
of thalassotherapy, exercise and education makes com-
parison with Do
¨nmez et al. [34] difficult as the
interventions described in the two studies are very differ-
ent. However both studies used similar outcome measures
and performed long-term follow-up assessments. Both
studies [34,35] concluded that spa therapy improved FIQ
scores and relieved pain providing temporary benefits for
patients with FMS. There is moderate evidence to support
that spa therapy is an effective treatment in the manage-
ment of FMS.
Outcome measures
In total, 36 different outcome measures were used across
the ten RCTs included in this review. The number of
outcome measures used by each study ranged from three
[27]to11[33] with the FIQ, visual analogue scale (VAS)
measuring pain and measurement of tender point count/
pressure used most frequently.
All studies assessed pain [2635], eight assessed fatigue
[2628,3135], and only four assessed sleep disturbance
[27,28,34,35]. Notably, only three studies assessed all of
the three most common symptoms of FMS i.e. pain, fatigue
and sleep [28,34,35].
Of the 36 outcome measures used 21 different outcome
measures were used only once, resulting in little stan-
dardisation between the studies. Despite pain being
assessed in all ten trials, there was a lot of variation in how
this was measured. Six trials used a VAS [26,27,29,30,
32,34], whilst others used the McGill pain questionnaire
[35], the Multidimensional Pain Inventory [33] and the
pain subscale of the FIQ [3133,35], the Arthritis self-
efficacy scale (ASES) [33] and the health assessment
questionnaire (HAQ) [28]. In terms of other outcomes,
seven trials measured health status using the FIQ, five
measured psychological status, and four measured QoL
Although some studies used the same outcome measure,
studies varied in how these were applied; additionally some
trials used only subscales as opposed to the complete scale.
This was found with the FIQ [26,28,3133], AIMS [28,
33], HAQ [26,28], checklist of individual strength [35] and
the MPI [33].
Study outcomes
Nine of the RCTs included in this review reported positive
outcomes for the use of hydrotherapy in FMS [2631,33
35]. Three of the nine RCTs reporting positive outcomes
were of high methodological quality [27,30,34], therefore,
there is strong evidence to support the use of hydrotherapy
in the management of FMS.
The aim of this review was to evaluate the effectiveness of
hydrotherapy in the management of FMS, and to provide
recommendations for future physiotherapy practice and
research. The results demonstrate that various forms of
hydrotherapy: balneotherapy, spa therapy, and pool-based
exercises can be effective in the treatment of FMS.
Improvements were demonstrated in FMS symptoms such
as pain, health status, anxiety, fatigue, in addition to
function and aerobic capacity. However, for the most part,
improvements tended to be short term. Of the ten RCTs
identified in this area most were low quality, common
methodological limitations were, small sample size leading
to under-powered studies, and poor follow up.
Methodological quality
The studies included in this review had some methodo-
logical limitations. Particularly this review found that
many studies failed to report details that would allow
scoring of internal validity (35.6% of internal validity
criteria scored ‘do not know’; Table 3). This finding echoes
that reported in a review of multidisciplinary rehabilitation
in FMS, where 34% of the internal validity criteria scored
‘do not know’’ [37]. Clearly describing all aspects of
methodology is necessary to allow more accurate estima-
tion of quality [38].
Study populations
Adequate sample sizes are important in the detection of
between-group differences [32] with larger samples having
greater power to detect if a difference exists [39]. The
sample sizes described were generally small, a failing
previously identified in the FMS literature [8]. High drop
Rheumatol Int
out rates in FMS studies contribute to small sample sizes
and are a feature of many FMS trials. Drop out rates were
generally clearly explained but Busch et al. [7] recom-
mends the need to better understand the characteristics of
those patients. Compared to other FMS trials where drop-
out/withdrawal rates have been as high as 21.0% [40],
17.7% [41] and 17.5% [21], the average rate of 11.2%
found in this review is fairly low. This may be attributed to
the inpatient nature or short duration of some studies and
the sense of pleasure reported during exercising in water
[33], all of which may influence compliance.
Three trials [31,33,35] reported the inclusion of co-
interventions. Evidence has shown that composite treat-
ments are associated with greater improvements [8], for
example, educational programmes when combined with
exercise are more effective than either treatment alone [17,
20]. However, this prevents firm conclusions being drawn
regarding treatment efficacy if co-interventions are not
comparable, as it is impossible to attribute effects to a
specific intervention [42].
Similarly, the multi-modal nature of spa therapy incor-
porates several effective evidence-based interventions, for
example massage [43] and heat packs [44]. The evidence
for other modalities is limited, with some shown to provide
no significant beneficial effects [44]. Once again, the use of
multiple interventions may lead to false conclusions in
interpreting the effectiveness of each individual modality.
The interventions used across the studies in this review
were largely heterogeneous with little standardisation in
terms of the mode, duration, and frequency of treatment
used in the management of patients with FMS. A recent
review [45] has noted that such variable treatment proto-
cols can hinder the comparison of studies.
The variety of measures used in FMS demonstrated in
this review strengthens the call by some researchers for
greater consistency in the measurement of outcomes in
FMS [46]. The FIQ is the only outcome measure specifi-
cally developed and extensively validated for FMS [47]
and was the most common measure used within this
review. It is reported to be the most responsive outcome
measure for perceived clinical improvements [48]. Inclu-
sion of the FIQ in all FMS clinical trials, as recommended
would allow greater comparability across clinical trials
A common problem in FMS studies is the failure to
conduct a long-term follow up [7,8], an issue once again
highlighted in this review. Indeed two RCTs identified
as being ‘highly relevant’ to this review [22,23] were
excluded because they failed to perform a long-term
Limitations of this review
Due to limited resources only those studies published in
English were included, therefore excluding potentially
relevant trials published in other languages. Also searches
were limited to published articles only; as there is a ten-
dency for editors to publish studies with positive findings
[49] this review may be subject to publication bias.
Also to ensure greater homogeneity amongst partici-
pants only studies published after 1990 (post the ACR 1990
classification criteria) were included. Potentially relevant
papers published before this date may have been excluded.
Finally, this review did not assess clinical appropriateness
or cost-effectiveness, but instead concentrated on statistical
significance. It is conceded that statistical significance may
not always reflect clinical significance; this may be a
subject for further investigation.
Further research
This review has highlighted areas for further research.
Additional RCTs are required: to separate the effect of
chemicals and heat in hydrotherapy [26], to identify ther-
apy cost effectiveness [34], to identify additional benefits
of exercising in water [32] and to determine if effects of
hydrotherapy are sustainable enough to be clinically ben-
eficial [31].
This review is the first to evaluate hydrotherapy, in all its
forms, in the management of FMS. Strong evidence
emerged for the effectiveness of hydrotherapy in the
treatment of FMS, with improvements particularly noted in
pain, health status and TPC. Due to the heterogeneous
nature of the interventions, it is difficult to make specific
recommendations for clinical practice, however, it appears
that hydrotherapy (with or without exercise) has a positive
role to play in the management of FMS.
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... Spa therapy (ST), widely prescribed in Europe, Japan, South America, and North Africa, is recommended for fibromyalgia for its analgesic, relaxing effects and supervised exercise. Randomized controlled trials suggest a benefit of ST on pain [8,[23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36], quality of life measured by the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) [24,26,27,29,30,35,37,38] or assessed with generic scales (BDI, SF-36, VAS, PSQI, MPQ, CIS, GTPS) [24,35,38], mood [8,24,25,31,35], sleep [8,34,39], fatigue [8,25,34], gastric dyspepsia [25,34], irritable bowel syndrome [8,25], and dyspnea of respiratory origin [31]. Reviews and meta-analyses confirmed these observations but emphasized the low power of some trials [10,21,23,28,32,[40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47]. ...
... Randomized controlled trials suggest a benefit of ST on pain [8,[23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36], quality of life measured by the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) [24,26,27,29,30,35,37,38] or assessed with generic scales (BDI, SF-36, VAS, PSQI, MPQ, CIS, GTPS) [24,35,38], mood [8,24,25,31,35], sleep [8,34,39], fatigue [8,25,34], gastric dyspepsia [25,34], irritable bowel syndrome [8,25], and dyspnea of respiratory origin [31]. Reviews and meta-analyses confirmed these observations but emphasized the low power of some trials [10,21,23,28,32,[40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47]. Nevertheless, EULAR stated that: "hot-water baths, with or without exercise, are effective in fibromyalgia because they improve pain and function" [20]. ...
Full-text available
Spa therapy is known to improve quality of life and diminish pain. We assessed the efficacy (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire-FIQ) and safety at 6 months of a fibromyalgia-specific therapeutic patient education (TPE) program added to fibromyalgia-specific standardized spa therapy (SST), compared to SST alone, in a controlled randomized trial. We enrolled 157 patients, mostly women, attending spa centers in Southwest France in 2015–2016, and randomized them to SST + TPE (79) or SST (78). The intention-to-treat with “missing as failure” analysis showed a tendency toward a higher, though non-significant, benefit with TPE than without for FIQ (−9 vs. −3; p = 0.053) or pain intensity (−0.9 vs. −1.1; p = 0.58). In addition, pain relief (+3.2 vs. +4.3; p = 0.03) and fatigue (−1.6 vs. −3.7; p = 0.02) were significantly improved, and 87% patients in the SST + TPE arm still regularly practiced the physical exercises taught to them at 6 months. We suspect significant and lasting improvement from spa therapy, as well as our already well-informed and well-managed participants, to have prevented the demonstration of a significant benefit of TPE on FIQ.
... A systematic review reported that various approaches of hydrotherapy could be beneficial in managing patients with FMS. A short-term effect was noted, improving pain, fatigue, and psychological symptoms [73]. ...
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) profoundly impacts patients’ quality of life with its symptoms and clinical signs. Fibromyalgia syndrome impairs daily living activities, reduces work efficiency and raises health-related costs. Although the prevalence rates vary depending on geographical location and diagnostic criteria, it is a common disorder worldwide. Females have a higher prevalence of fibromyalgia syndrome, with varied rates, and there is an increase in prevalence rates with age. Although its etiopathogenesis has not been fully elucidated, various hypotheses have been proposed that central sensitization is at the core of the process. Fibromyalgia syndrome diagnostic approaches have advanced significantly over time, moving away from pain assessments alone and emphasizing multiple clinical signs of FMS. This condition has raised physicians’ and researchers’ awareness of non-pain symptoms. Considering the complicated etiopathogenesis of fibromyalgia syndrome, diverse pathways connected with symptoms, and multiple clinical presentations, it becomes clear that drug and non-drug treatments should be chosen in combination.
... When he himself had dysentery, fever and delirium, he performed hydrotherapy. Modern medicine shows efficacy of hydrotherapy in rheumatoid arthritis [16] , fibromyalgia syndrome [17] , migraine [18] , obstetrical [19] and other disorders. Sitz bath is routinely prescribed for various anorectal diseases. ...
Full-text available
Mahatma Gandhi is an international symbol of peace. What remains lesser known are his teachings on health. The year 2018-19 marks 150 years of Gandhi. On this occasion we look back into the life and teachings of Gandhi and their impact on health. Today India, like many other developing nations, is facing double burden of diseases in the form of communicable and non communicable diseases. Majority of our health problems can be solved by following simple Gandhian methods. They are applicable to all aspects of health, namely, physical, mental and social health. His methods have survived the tide of time and are relevant even in the era of modern medicine. We take a dive into the history and search for health solutions which are simple, inexpensive, efficacious and above all, "swadeshi‟.
Background Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic widespread pain syndrome characterized primarily by widespread pain, fatigue, sleep dysfunction and low exercise tolerance. The pathophysiology is complex and its understanding evolving, and clinical management is difficult, with heterogeneous interventions employed. Objectives This scoping review provides an overview of fibromyalgia syndrome, and the evidence for the principal rehabilitation approaches. CINAHL, Cochrane, Medline and PubMed databases were searched from 1996 to 2021. Rehabilitation approaches included exercise, psychologically-based approaches, multicomponent approaches, and complementary and alternative therapies. Major findings Due to factors such as methodological shortcomings of existing studies, and the lack of evidence on individual modalities, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions as to which is the most appropriate rehabilitation approach in FMS. However, there is evidence from meta-analyses and several international guidelines for the use of approaches incorporating exercise. There is also some evidence for the use of psychologically-informed interventions such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) approaches. Evidence for other interventions is more equivocal. Conclusions It appears that a combination of interventions (e.g. exercises combined with education and psychological approaches), is the most promising means of managing patients with FMS. Issues such as high numbers of drop-outs from exercise programmes, lack of long-term follow-up in many studies, and patients’ preferences warrant further investigation. An individualized approach based upon extent of psychological involvement, severity of symptoms and level of disability is also recommended.
Context: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic musculoskeletal condition characterized by persistent, widespread pain, myofascial tenderness, negative affect, fatigue, memory problems and sleep disturbances. Objective: To summarize the evidence of the effects of aquatic therapy on sleep quality in patients with FMS. Methods: This systematic review and meta-analysis was performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols 2020 (PRISMA) guidelines and registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO), whit the registration number CRD42021249982. Cochrane library, Medline (PubMed), Science Direct Web of Science (WOS), Scopus, and PEDro were searched from inception until September 2021. The search included only randomized clinical trials. Results: Of the 7711 studies identified in the initial search, a total of 7 trials (361 participants) satisfied the eligibility criteria. Finally, a meta-analysis was conducted with 6 studies (311 participants). The overall pooled effect favored aquatic therapy interventions in improving sleep quality in patients with FMS (pooled MD, -2.05; 95% CI, -4.35 to 0.25). Conclusions: The results of this systematic review and meta-analysis provide evidence that aquatic therapy improved sleep quality in patients with FMS. This study highlights the importance of aquatic therapy for sleep. Nonetheless, although an aquatic therapy intervention may represent a good option to improve sleep, given the low number of studies the evidence should be taken with caution.
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Objective To review methods for aquatic exercise monitoring using wearables. Data sources Database search of PubMed, IEEEXplore, Scopus and Web of Science based on keywords, considering articles from the year 2000. The last search was performed on 26 October 2022. Review methods Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) protocol, eligible articles on water exercises were selected and summarized. Further screening process concentrated on studies exploiting wearable devices, organized according to demographics, purpose, protocols, outcomes and methods. A custom critical appraisal questionnaire was applied. Results Out of the 1062 articles identified, 572 were considered eligible and subjected to preliminary synthesis. The final review focused on 27 articles featuring wearable devices applied to aquatic exercises. Four studies were disregarded as they applied wearable devices to determine daily physical activity or for sleep monitoring after training. Summary tables of 23 studies exploiting wearable devices for underwater motion analysis are provided, specifying the investigated parameters, major outcomes and study quality. This review identified four research gaps: (a) the absence of clinical protocols for underwater motion studies, (b) a deficit of whole-body studies, (c) the lack of longitudinal studies monitored via wearable devices and (d) the reliance of underwater studies on measurement and assessment methods developed for land-based investigations. Conclusions This review emphasizes the need for both technological and methodological improvements for underwater motion analysis studies using wearables. We advocate for longitudinal clinical investigations with wearables to substantiate water exercise as an addition or replacement for land-based physical activity.
Résumé La cure thermale est connue pour améliorer la qualité de vie et diminuer la douleur. Nous avons évalué l’efficacité (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire-FIQ) et l’innocuité à 6 mois d’un programme d’éducation thérapeutique du patient (ETP) spécifique à la fibromyalgie, ajouté à la cure thermale standardisée (SST) adaptée à la fibromyalgie, comparée à la SST seule, dans un essai contrôlé randomisé. Nous avons recruté 157 patients, majoritairement des femmes, fréquentant des centres thermaux du Sud-Ouest de la France, en 2015–2016, et les avons randomisés en SST + TPE (79) ou SST (78). L’analyse en intention de traiter avec « manque comme échec » a montré une tendance vers un bénéfice plus élevé, quoique non significatif, avec l’ETP sur le FIQ (−9 vs −3 ; p = 0,053) ou l’intensité de la douleur (−0,9 contre −1,1 ; p = 0,58). Nous expliquons le défaut de bénéfice significatif de l’ETP, évalué à partir du FIQ, par le fait que nos participants, appartenant à des associations de patients fibromyalgiques, étaient déjà bien informés et bien encadrés. À noter, la bonne tolérance des cures thermales avec peu d’effets indésirables et surtout que 87 % des patients du bras SST + TPE pratiquaient encore régulièrement, à 6 mois, les exercices physiques qui leur avaient été enseignés. En outre, le soulagement de la douleur (+3,2 vs. +4,3 ; p = 0,03) et la fatigue (−1,6 vs. −3,7 ; p = 0,02) étaient significativement améliorées, la prise médicamenteuse diminuée de façon nette.
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Physical exercise has been used as a form of treatment for fibromyalgia, however, the results indicate the need for further investigations on the effect of exercise on different symptoms. The aim of the study was to synthesize and analyse studies related to the effect of exercise in individuals with fibromyalgia and provide practical recommendations for practitioners and exercise professionals. A search was carried out in the Web of Science, PubMed, and Scopus databases in search of randomized clinical trials (RCT) written in English. A meta-analysis was performed to determine the effectiveness of different types of exercise on the fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ), and the protocol period and session duration on the pain outcome. Eighteen articles were eligible for a qualitative assessment and 16 were included in the meta-analysis. The exercise showed large evidence for the association with a reduction in the FIQ (SMD − 0.98; 95% CI − 1.49 to − 0.48). Protocols between 13 and 24 weeks (SMD − 1.02; 95% CI − 1.53 to − 0.50), with a session time of less than 30 min (SMD − 0.68 95% CI − 1.26 to − 0.11) or > 30 min and < 60 min (SMD − 1.06; 95% CI − 1.58 to − 0.53) presented better results. Better results were found after combined training protocols and aerobic exercises. It is suggested that exercise programs lasting 13–24 weeks should be used to reduce pain, and each session should last between 30 and 60 min. In addition, the intensity should always be carried out gradually and progressively. PROSPERO registration number CRD42020198151.
Fibromyalgia typically presents in young or middle-aged females as persistent widespread pain, stiffness, fatigue, disrupted unrefreshing sleep, and cognitive difculties, often accompanied by multiple other unexplained symptoms, anxiety and/or depression, and functional impairment of daily living activities. Management of Fibromyalgia at the present time is very difcult as it has multiple etiological factors and psychological predispositions; however, a patient centered approach is essential to handle this problem. Many adjunctive interventions have been implemented in bromyalgia treatment, but few are supported by controlled trials. Only three drugs, pregabalin, duloxetine, and milnacipran are currently FDAapproved for Fibromyalgia treatment, but many other agents have been tested over the years, with varying efcacy
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Study Design. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Objectives. To assess the effectiveness of the most common conservative types of treatment for patients with acute and chronic nonspecific low back pain. Summary of Background Data. Many treatment options for acute and chronic low back pain are available, but little is known about the optimal treatment strategy. Methods. A rating system was used to assess the strength of the evidence, based on the methodologic quality of the randomized controlled trials, the relevance of the outcome measures, and the consistency of the results. Results. The number of randomized controlled trials identified varied widely with regard to the interventions involved. The scores ranged from 20 to 79 points for acute low back pain and from 19 to 79 points for chronic low back pain on a 100‐point scale, indicating the overall poor quality of the trials. Overall, only 28 (35%) randomized controlled trials on acute low back pain and 20 (25%) on chronic low back pain had a methodologic score of 50 or more points, and were considered to be of high quality. Various methodologic flaws were identified. Strong evidence was found for the effectiveness of muscle relaxants and nonsteroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs and the ineffectiveness of exercise therapy for acute low back pain; strong evidence also was found for the effectiveness of manipulation, back schools, and exercise therapy for chronic low back pain, especially for short‐term effects. Conclusions. The quality of the design, execution, and reporting of randomized controlled trials should be improved, to establish strong evidence for the effectiveness of the various therapeutic interventions for acute and chronic low back pain.
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The aim of this study was to identify the physiotherapeutic management of patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) in Northern Ireland. A postal questionnaire was distributed to physiotherapists working in outpatient settings in this region (n = 106). A response rate of 71% (n = 75) was achieved. Patients with FMS featured in the caseloads of all respondents. The most important reported goal of treatment was to ‘increase daily function’ (n = 24; 32%). Exercise (n = 44; 58.7%) and hydrotherapy (n = 12; 16.0%) were the most common treatment approaches. A total of 45.3% (n = 34) of respondents stated that they did not believe they could adequately assess patients with FMS and 41.3% (n = 31) reported that they had no training in the management of FMS. Private practitioners were significantly (P = 0.05) more likely to believe that physiotherapy was beneficial for patients with FMS than their NHS counterparts. In conclusion, physiotherapy treatments for patients with FMS in Northern Ireland are consistent with current evidence. However, practice varies and physiotherapists are uncomfortable with their level of training in FMS.
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The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of connective tissue massage in the treatment of individuals with fibromyalgia. The results of this random study of 48 individuals diagnosed with fibromyalgia (23 in the treatment group and 25 in the reference group) show that a series of 15 treatments with connective tissue massage conveys a pain relieving effect of 37%, reduces depression and the use of analgesics, and positively effects quality of life. The treatment effects appeared gradually during the 10-week treatment period. Three months after the treatment period about 30% of the pain relieving effect was gone, and 6 months after the treatment period pain was back to about 90% of the basic value. As long as there is a lack of effective medical treatment for individuals with fibromyalgia, they ought to be offered treatments with connective tissue massage. However, further studies are needed in the mechanisms behind the treatment effects.
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a syndrome of unknown etiology characterized by chronic wide spread pain, increased tenderness to palpation and additional symptoms such as disturbed sleep, stiffness, fatigue and psychological distress. While medication mainly focus on pain reduction, physical therapy is aimed at disease consequences such as pain, fatigue, deconditioning, muscle weakness and sleep disturbances and other disease consequences. We systematically reviewed current treatment options in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Based on evidence from randomized controlled trials cardiovascular fitness training importantly improves cardiovascular fitness, both subjective and objective measures of pain as well as subjective energy and work capacity and physical and social activities. Based on anecdotal evidence or small observational studies physiotherapy may reduce overloading of the muscle system, improve postural fatigue and positioning, and condition weak muscles. Modalities and whole body cryotherapy may reduce loc...
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of balneotherapy in patients with the Primary Fibromyalgia Syndrome (PFS). 40 patients (37 females, 3 males) with PFS, diagnosed by the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology, were treated by balneotherapy once a day, five times a week, over a period of two weeks. 20 patients without balneotherapy served as a control group. An algometer was used to evaluate the pain score. The mean pressure algometer score in the balneotherapy group changed statistically significantly at the end of therapy, at 3 weeks and 4 weeks after the end of therapy, whereas it did not change significantly in the control group. As a conclusion, balneotherapy may be an alternative treatment of PPS without any side effects.
Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a whole-body disease that is associated with pain and discomfort. Approximately 2 to 5% of the population is afflicted with FMS and up to 90% of individuals diagnosed are women. There is no known cure for FMS, only suggested treatments designed to manage FMS symptoms. Treatment modalities, including both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions, are often co-prescribed and vary widely in order to address the unique experience faced by FMS sufferers. A substantial number of studies have investigated how physical activity is related to the symptoms associated with FMS. The purpose of the present review is to provide a holistic picture of the exercise-FMS relationship by addressing the following questions: (1) Do differences exist between individuals with FMS and healthy individuals in physiological responses to acute exercise or adaptation to exercise training? (2) What type(s) of physical activity is (are) best for individuals afflicted with FMS? (3) Do different exercise modalities lead to the reprieve of different symptoms? (4) What specific symptoms are alleviated through exercise participation? (5) What conclusions have been drawn by other researchers reviewing exercise-related interventions for FMS? (6) Does gender moderate the optimal exercise modality or treatment effectiveness? (7) What current therapeutic approaches to FMS are most successful and do they include exercise? (8) If exercise is currently being used as an effective treatment, what current exercise prescriptions exist for people with FMS? In response to these questions, comparisons are made between FMS and healthy individuals with regard to physiological responses to exercise and training. In addition, a review of the exercise-related FMS research is presented. Gender differences in exercise-related indices of health and physical functioning are considered. Treatment options for managing FMS are reviewed, and exercise prescriptions for effective treatments are provided. It is concluded that a regular exercise program tailored toward an individual's specific needs and symptom challenges will ultimately increase their psychological and physical functioning, decrease their pain experiences, help alleviate other FMS symptoms, and improve their overall quality of life by improving their physical ability to perform activities of daily living.
To develop criteria for the classification of fibromyalgia, we studied 558 consecutive patients: 293 patients with fibromyalgia and 265 control patients. Interviews and examinations were performed by trained, blinded assessors. Control patients for the group with primary fibromyalgia were matched for age and sex, and limited to patients with disorders that could be confused with primary fibromyalgia. Control patients for the group with secondary-concomitant fibromyalgia were matched for age, sex, and concomitant rheumatic disorders. Widespread pain (axial plus upper and lower segment plus left- and right-sided pain) was found in 97.6% of all patients with fibromyalgia and in 69.1% of all control patients. The combination of widespread pain and mild or greater tenderness in ⩾ 11 of 18 tender point sites yielded a sensitivity of 88.4% and a specificity of 81.1%. Primary fibromyalgia patients and secondary-concomitant fibromyalgia patients did not differ statistically in any major study variable, and the criteria performed equally well in patients with and those without concomitant rheumatic conditions. The newly proposed criteria for the classification of fibromyalgia are 1) widespread pain in combination with 2) tenderness at 11 or more of the 18 specific tender point sites. No exclusions are made for the presence of concomitant radiographic or laboratory abnormalities. At the diagnostic or classification level, the distinction between primary fibromyalgia and secondary-concomitant fibromyalgia (as defined in the text) is abandoned.
Objective. To determine the prevalence and characteristics of fibromyalgia in the general population. Methods. A random sample of 3,006 persons in Wichita, KS, were characterized according to the presence of no pain, non-widespread pain, and widespread pain. A subsample of 391 persons, including 193 with widespread pain, were examined and interviewed in detail. Results. The prevalence of fibromyalgia was 2.0% (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.4, 2.7) for both sexes, 3.4% (95% CI 2.3, 4.6) for women, and 0.5% (95% CI 0.0, 1.0) for men. The prevalence of the syndrome increased with age, with highest values attained between 60 and 79 years (>7.0% in women). Demographic, psychological, dolorimetry, and symptom factors were associated with fibromyalgia. Conclusion. Fibromyalgia is common in the population, and occurs often in older persons. Characteristic features of fibromyalgia–pain threshold and symptoms–are similar in community and clinic populations, but overall severity, pain, and functional disability are more severe in the clinic population.
PurposeThe purpose of this study was to search for, appraise the quality of and collate the research evidence supporting the clinical effectiveness of hydrotherapy.MethodA systematic search of literature was performed using ten medical and allied health databases from which studies relevant to physiotherapeutic hydrotherapy practice were retrieved. Patient trials were critically appraised for research merit using recognised published guidelines and the results were collated into clinical, functional and affective outcomes for the investigated populations.ResultsSeventeen randomised control trials, two case-control studies, 12 cohort studies and two case reports were included in the appraisal. Two trials achieved appraisal scores indicating high quality evidence in a subjectively evaluated merit categorisation. Fifteen studies were deemed to provide moderate quality evidence for the effectiveness of hydrotherapy.DiscussionFlaws in study design and reporting attenuated the strength of the research evidence. Recommendations were made for the future direction of clinical hydrotherapy research. Randomised controlled trials with larger sample sizes, assessor blinding and the use of validated and reliable outcome measures in subjects with neurological conditions and acute orthopaedic injuries are particularly required.ConclusionThe balance of high to moderate quality evidence supported benefit from hydrotherapy in pain, function, self-efficacy and affect, joint mobility, strength, and balance, particularly among older adults, subjects with rheumatic conditions and chronic low back pain.