Researchers at the Istanbul Medical Faculty, in Turkey, studied the effects of balneotherapy alone and with physical therapies on the respiratory and other symptoms of fibromyalgia.

First, the details.

  • 56 patients with fibromyalgia were assigned to a treatment group for 3 weeks.
  • All 3 groups received the same 3 physical therapy: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, and infrared.
    • Group 1: Physical therapy + balneotherapy (PT+BT)
    • Group 2: Physical therapy only (PT)
    • Group 3: Physical therapy + hydrotherapy (PT+HT)
  • Response was assessed on the 7th day of therapy, the end of therapy, and 6 months after therapy.
  • Pain, depression, respiratory symptoms, and quality of life were monitored.

And, the results.

  • Breathing, and lung function
    • At the end of therapy and at 6 months follow up, PT+HT was associated with significant improvements in breathing, and lung function.
    • PT group had no significant change in shortness of breath or lung function.
    • PT+BT and PT+HT achieved significant improvements at the end of therapies for shortness of breath and lung function, but only the PT+BT group had significant improvements for shortness of breath and lung function at six month after the study.
  • Depression
    • All groups achieved significant improvements in depression.
    • Scores with PT and PT+HT groups reversed at 6 months follow up.
  • Pain
    • Pain improved at the 6-month follow up in PT+HT and PT+BT groups, but not with PT alone.
  • At the end of therapy
    • PT+BT group had more significant improvements at the end of therapy.

The bottom line?

It’s a bit confusing.

However, the authors concluded, “The group of PT+BT was significantly better than other groups” regarding breathing and other symptoms. And, the response lasted for 6 months.

A review of available evidence in 2009 was less positive for balneotherapy in patients with fibromyalgia.

1/23/11 20:47 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.