Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Fibromyalgia: Results of an Online Survey



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Journal Article

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Publication Title

Pain Management Nursing





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Background: Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition which may negatively impact various aspects of patients' lives. Many people with fibromyalgia look to complementary and alternative medicine treatments for symptom relief. Aims: The three main objectives of this study were to examine self-reported complementary and alternative medicine use in patients with fibromyalgia, to determine associations between the use of complementary and alternative medicine treatments and patients’ self-reported quality of live and self-reported pain levels. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Web-based. Participants/Subjects: Adults over the age of 18 years who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Methods: Patients with fibromyalgia responded to an online questionnaire regarding the following: treatments (complementary and alternative medicine, prescription and over-the-counter medications), quality of life (Quality of Life Scale-16), assessment of current pain (visual analog scale), and demographic information. Results: Approximately 66% of the respondents used complementary and alternative treatments. Vitamins, massage therapy, and meditation were the most commonly used complementary and alternative therapies. Results indicated respondents using a combination of complementary and alternative medicine and pharmacologic treatments (prescription or over-the-counter) had significantly higher quality of life versus those using pharmacologic treatments alone, p = .011. Similarly, respondents using only complementary and alternative medicine treatment reported significantly lower pain levels versus those using pharmacologic treatment alone, p = .046. Conclusions: The study suggests that a large proportion of fibromyalgia patients use complementary and alternative medicine, and these treatments may offer beneficial effects to these patients. Integration of complementary and alternative medicine into conventional treatment regimens may provide opportunities for a holistic treatment approach and greater symptom relief for fibromyalgia patients. This approach is timely, as controlled substances are increasingly difficult for patients with fibromyalgia to access.

Open Access

Green Accepted