Studies Find Biofeedback Reduces Fibromyalgia Pain

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Efficacy of EMG- and EEG-Biofeedback in Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis and a Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.

By Julia Anna Glombiewski, Kathrin Bernardy, and Winfried Häuser.


Objectives: Biofeedback (BFB) is an established intervention in the rehabilitation of headache and other pain disorders. Little is known about this treatment option for fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). The aim of the present review is to integrate and critically evaluate the evidence regarding the efficacy of biofeedback for FMS.

Methods: We conducted a literature search using Pubmed, (National Institute of Health), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, and manual searches. The effect size estimates were calculated using a random-effects model.

Results: The literature search produced 123 unique citations. One hundred sixteen records were excluded. The meta-analysis included seven studies (321 patients) on EEG-Biofeedback and EMG-Biofeedback.

  • In comparison to control groups, biofeedback (BFB) significantly reduced pain intensity with a large effect size (g = 0.79; 95% CI: 0.22-1.36).

  • Subgroup analyses revealed that only EMG-BFB and not EEG-BFB significantly reduced pain intensity in comparison to control groups (g = 0.86; 95% CI: 0.11-1.62).

  • BFB did not reduce sleep problems, depression, fatigue, or health-related quality of life in comparison to a control group.

Discussion: The interpretation of the results is limited because of a lack of studies on the long-term effects of EMG-BFB in FMS. Further research should focus on the long-term efficacy of BFB in fibromyalgia and on the identification of predictors of treatment response.

Source: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013. By Julia Anna Glombiewski, Kathrin Bernardy, and Winfried Häuser. Department for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Marburg, 35032 Marburg, Germany.

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