Researchers at the Gaziantep University Faculty of Medicine in Turkey investigated the effects of balneotherapy on treatment of fibromyalgia compared to education alone and found that adding this therapy to patient education has both short- and long-term benefits on fibromyalgia patients. The research paper, “Comparison of education and balneotherapy efficacy in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome: A randomized, controlled clinical study,” was published in Agri (The Journal of the Turkish Society of Algology).
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating and chronic condition associated with muscular or musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, mobility issues, with symptoms varying from patient to patient. According to the American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association, 3 to 5 percent of the U.S. population is affected by this condition, with a higher prevalence in females.
Specifically, people suffering from other rheumatoid diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, are at an increased risk of developing the condition. Currently, there are a series of therapy approaches to reduce the effects of fibromyalgia, including pharmacology, such as antidepressants and anti-epileptic medicines, and non-pharmacological methods. Exercise, patient education, heat applications and balneotherapy are common non-pharmacological treatment methods.
Balneotherapy, defined as bathing in mineral waters, has been commonly used for many years in the treatment of rheumatic diseases.
In order to evaluate the effects of balneotherapy compared to education for fibromyalgia therapy, researchers randomized 66 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia into balneotherapy and control groups, where all patients were also informed about fibromyalgia syndrome. In the balneotherapy group, patients received 21 sessions of spa treatment with 34.8-degree centigrade thermomineral water, attending the spa five days a week. Results indicated that both groups experienced significant improvements, with patients in the balneotherapy group having the most improved parameters in the first three-month follow-up. The patients were evaluated by visual analog scale, tender point count, fibromyalgia impact questioning, and modified fatigue impact scale.
“Adding informative educational sessions to the treatment increases the efficiency of the treatment. We think that balneotherapy and patient education is a more effective and trustable treatment alternative in FMS about which a clear consensus on the treatment is not available yet. Larger patient groups and longer observation periods are warranted to determine the reproducibility of our results,” the researchers concluded.