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Clin Med Insights Arthritis Musculoskelet Disord. 2012;5:19-26. doi: 10.4137/CMAMD.S8797. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Fibromyalgia syndrome and spa therapy: myth or reality?

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Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical Medicine and Immunological Sciences, University of Siena, Italy.


Fibromyalgia syndrome (FS) is a common musculoskeletal disorder characterized by otherwise unexplained chronic widespread pain, a lowered pain threshold, high tender point counts, sleep disturbances, fatigue, headache, irritable bowel syndrome, morning stiffness, paraesthesias in the extremities, often psychological distress and depressed mood. Consequently, FS has a negative impact on working capacity, family life, social functioning and quality of life. Because of unknown etiology and not clearly understood pathogenesis, there is no standard therapy regime for FS. A variety of medical treatments, including antidepressants, opioids, analgesic or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, sedatives, muscle relaxants and antiepileptics, have been used to treat FS. Currently, no pharmacological treatment for FS is consistently successful. According to recent guidelines, the optimal treatment of FS requires a multidisciplinary approach with a combination of non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatment modalities. Spa therapy is a popular treatment for FS in many European countries, as well as in Japan and Israel. However, despite their long history and popularity spa treatments are still the subject of debate and their role in modern medicine is still not clear. The objective of this review is to summarize the currently available information on clinical effects and mechanism of action of spa therapy in FS. We also provide some suggestions for further development in this area.


balneotherapy; fibromyalgia syndrome; mud-packs; randomized clinical trial; spa therapy

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