[Note: Infrared sauna employs radiant heat like the sun’s heat but without ultraviolet rays. It is believed to stimulate circulation and is much cooler than a steam sauna. The technology was developed in Japan in 1965.]
Objective: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic syndrome characterized by widespread pain with tenderness in specific areas. We examined the applicability of Waon therapy (soothing warmth therapy) as a new method of pain treatment in patients with FMS.
Methods: Thirteen female FMS patients (mean age, 45.2+/-15.5 years old; range, 25-75) who fulfilled the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology participated in this study.
Patients received Waon therapy once per day for 2 or 5 days/week. The patients:
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- Were placed in the supine or sitting position in a far infrared-ray dry sauna maintained at an even temperature of 60 degrees C [140 degrees F – much cooler than a steam sauna] for 15 minutes,
- And then transferred to a room maintained at 26-27 degrees C [79-80 F] where they were covered with a blanket from the neck down to keep them warm for 30 minutes.
Reductions in subjective pain and symptoms were determined using the pain visual analog scale (VAS) and fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ).
Results: All patients experienced a significant reduction in pain by about half after the first session of Waon therapy (11% to 70%), and the effect of Waon therapy became stable (20% to 78%) after 10 treatments.
Pain VAS and FIQ symptom scores were significantly (p<0.01) decreased after Waon therapy and remained low throughout the observation period.
Conclusion: Waon therapy is effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome.
Source: Internal Medicine (Tokyo) Aug 15, 2008;47(16):1473-6. [E-pub ahead of print] PMID: 18703857, by Matsushita K, Masuda A, Tei C. The First Department of Internal Medicine, Kagoshima University Hospital, Kagoshima, Japan. [E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org]