Dance Therapy May Help Reduce Pain in Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Suggests

Dance Therapy May Help Reduce Pain in Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Suggests

Dance can improve several aspects of fibromyalgia patients’ lives because it reduces pain symptoms and anxiety.

The review study with that finding, “Effects of Dance on Pain in Patients with Fibromyalgia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” was published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Physical activity is a common non-pharmacological strategy to reduce pain associated with multiple chronic conditions, including fibromyalgia.

Dancing has been adopted as a therapeutic exercise strategy. Apart from the improvements associated with most types of physical exercise, such as improving mental health and physical functions, dance also incorporates other aspects of the body and mind, such as rhythmic motor coordination, cognitive, emotions, affection, and social interaction.

“Through dance, patients can perform physical exercise but also develop the sense of self-control, which can lead to a decrease in feelings of anxiety that may contribute to the development of stress and pain experience,” researchers wrote.

To have better insights on the therapeutic potential of dance, Spanish researchers analyzed the data of seven published studies comprising a total of 335 patients with fibromyalgia. The studies focused on different group dance interventions, including biodance, aquatic biodance, dance movement therapy, and belly dance.

The duration of the dance programs ranged between six and 24 weeks, with each session taking 60 to 120 minutes, performed once or twice weekly.

Analysis of all the studies revealed that dance interventions were associated with a significant reduction of pain in fibromyalgia patients, with an overall reduction ranging between 2.69 and 0.59 point change, which the researchers considered a large difference.

“Given the relevance of pain symptoms in fibromyalgia syndrome, there is evidence that therapies based on dance may be beneficial and clinically relevant for people with fibromyalgia,” researchers stated. However, the collected evidence is still limited so these findings should “be taken with caution,” they added.

In addition, some of the studies also reported significant improvement on several aspects of patients’ quality of life, including better emotional and mental health, and sleep quality.

This alternative treatment approach also was reported to have a beneficial effect on significantly reducing patients’ anxiety and enhancing their physical capacity.

“Dance may improve quality of life and physical function, as well as reducing anxiety, depression, and the impact of the disease,” they said.

Additional studies are still warranted to further explore the therapeutic effect of dance for reducing pain in fibromyalgia patient, they advised. Also, future studies could address the potential of virtual reality to conduct dance-based interventions, as well as of other rhythmic exercises like Zumba, for these patients.