Perceptual surfaces improve physical function and reduce pain in fibromyalgia (FM) female patients, according to a study, “A New Rehabilitation Tool in Fibromyalgia: The Effects of Perceptive Rehabilitation on Pain and Function in a Clinical Randomized Controlled Trial,” published in the open-access Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM) journal.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease characterized by widespread pain, tenderness, muscle stiffness, fatigue, sleep disturbances and psychological and cognitive alterations. The disease affects primarily women — 80 percent to 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients are female — and patients tend to spend more time engaging in sedentary activities. Physical exercises were reported to produce a significant positive impact on joint rigidity, muscle stiffness, widespread pain and tenderness, and fatigue and secondary positive effects on cognitive dysfunction.
Researchers determined the efficacy of rehabilitation in fibromyalgia patients who underwent perceptual surfaces and physical exercise, focusing particularly on chronic pain and physical function when compared to a control group. A total of 88 female patients with fibromyalgia were analyzed, out of which 62 were randomly assigned to three different groups: perceptual surfaces group with 20 patients, physical exercises group with 21 subjects, and a 21-member control group (the study patients met the requirements according the American College of Rheumatology criteria).
At the end of the study, data from 54 females were analyzed. Each group was evaluated based on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), and Fibromyalgia Assessment Scale (FAS), administered at different time points: at baseline, at the end of the treatment (10 rehabilitation sessions over five weeks), and at the 12-week follow-up.
Researchers observed that the perceptual surfaces-group exhibited a significant improvement in feelings of pain when compared to the control group, according to the scores of the FAS and HAQ test. The physical exercise group also registered a good efficacy for pain and function in relation to the control group, as denoted by the FAS, HAQ, and FIQ scores. No differences were observed between the perceptual surfaces and physical exercise groups in any parameter. Also, the positive effects — improved physical function and reduced pain — were maintained at follow-up in both rehabilitation groups.
These results suggest that perceptual surfaces are an positive strategy to treat women with fibromyalgia, with achievements similar to those with physical exercises in terms of physical function improvement and pain reduction. Researchers suggest that future studies should evaluate the synergistic effects of perceptual surfaces and physical exercises in fibromyalgia.