‘Talk Therapy’ Given Online Could Help Ease Pain of Fibromyalgia, Study Suggests

‘Talk Therapy’ Given Online Could Help Ease Pain of Fibromyalgia, Study Suggests
Cognitive behavioral therapy delivered online could help people with fibromyalgia better manage their symptoms and ease pain, results of studies for a doctoral thesis conducted in patients found. The thesis, "Getting close with discomfort : exposure therapy for fibromyalgia," was authored by Maria Hedman-Lagerlöf at the Karolinska Institutet. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy, or psychotherapy, that aims to change unhelpful or unpleasant thought patterns, so-called negative thinking. For people with fibromyalgia, this would entail training the brain to focus less on the pain associated with their condition. "The brain gradually learns that these unpleasant signals aren't dangerous and so stops interpreting them as important," Hedman-Lagerlöf said in a press release. "When you become less occupied with the pain signals you don't feel as impeded by them, which tends to mitigate the pain and other symptoms." CBT is traditionally given face-to-face, with patients attending structured sessions with a psychotherapist or therapist. Online sessions could, however, make this type of therapy more accessible and be less cost-prohibitive. Hedman-Lagerlöf and other researchers first developed an online CBT course tailored for people with fibromyalgia. Then, they put this course through a series of studies. "Exposure therapy has shown some promise in treating other chronic pain conditions, but has not been evaluated specifically for patients with FM," the study noted. (Exposure therapy is a type of CBT described in the paper as involving "repeated and sustained contact with stimuli that elicit symptom-related distress.") All study participants were from Sweden, and nearly all were female. In the first study, forty people with fibr
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