There is little empirical evidence for the effectiveness of physical and other non-pharmacological approaches to the management of fibromyalgia. Although a number of studies have been conducted into such approaches, many of these are uncontrolled, and relatively few randomized controlled trials of appropriate size and methodological rigour have been carried out. This chapter provides an overview of the evidence available under the following headings: exercise, EMG biofeedback training, electrotherapy and acupuncture, patient education and self-management programs, multimodal treatment approaches, and other interventions. It is hard to reach firm conclusions from the literature, owing to the variety of interventions that have been evaluated and the varying methodological quality of the studies concerned.
Nonetheless, in terms of specific interventions, exercise therapy has received a moderate degree of support from the literature, and has been subjected to more randomized studies than any other intervention. In contrast, there is little or no evidence available for most types of electrotherapy. In terms of overall management strategies, a multimodal program of management, including physical, psychological and educational components and delivered in a multidisciplinary setting, has gained some support from descriptive and experimental studies, and accords with current understanding of the etiology and clinical features of fibromyalgia. There is a clear need for further systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of non-pharmacological treatment approaches in fibromyalgia.
Baillieres Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol 1999 Sep;13(3):507-23
Primary Care Sciences Research Centre, Keele University, Staffordshire, UK.
PMID: 10562382, UI: 20023804