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Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2001 Apr;3(2):147-56.

Complementary and alternative therapies for fibromyalgia.

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  • 1University of Michigan, 1150 West Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-0680, USA.


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a syndrome of chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain that is accompanied by sleep disturbance and fatigue. Clinical treatment usually includes lifestyle modifications and pharmacologic interventions meant to relieve pain, improve sleep quality, and treat mood disorders. These therapies are often ineffective or have been shown in clinical studies to have only short-term effectiveness. Pharmacologic treatments have considerable side effects. Patients may have difficulty complying with exercise-based treatments. Thus, patients seek alternative therapeutic approaches and physicians are routinely asked for advice about these treatments. This article reviews nontraditional treatment alternatives, from use of nutritional and herbal supplements to acupuncture and mind-body therapy. Little is known about efficacy and tolerance of complementary and alternative therapies in FM and other chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes. Most studies on these treatments have been performed for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or focal musculoskeletal conditions. Clinical trials are scarce; the quality of these trials is often criticized because of small study population size, lack of appropriate control interventions, poor compliance, or short duration of follow-up. However, because of widespread and growing use of alternative medicine, especially by persons with chronic illnesses, it is essential to review efficacy and adverse effects of complementary and alternative therapies.

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