Objective: This study analyzed and compared the effects of manual lymph drainage therapy (MLDT) and connective tissue massage (CTM) in women with primary fibromyalgia (PFM).
Methods: The study design was a randomized controlled trial. Fifty women with PFM completed the study. The patients were divided randomly into 2 groups. Whereas 25 of them received MLDT, the other 25 underwent CTM. The treatment program was carried out 5 times a week for 3 weeks in each group. Pain was evaluated by a visual analogue scale and algometry. The Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) and Nottingham Health Profile were used to describe health status and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Wilcoxon signed rank test and Mann-Whitney U test were used to analyze the data.
Results: In both groups, significant improvements were found regarding pain intensity, pain pressure threshold, and HRQoL (P < .05). However, the scores of FIQ-7 (P = .006), FIQ-9 (P = .006), and FIQ-total (P = .010) were significantly lower in the MLDT group than they were in the CTM group at the end of treatment.
Conclusions: For this particular group of patients, both MLDT and CTM appear to yield improvements in terms of pain, health status, and HRQoL. The results indicate that these manual therapy techniques might be used in the treatment of PFM. However, MLDT was found to be more effective than CTM according to some subitems of FIQ (morning tiredness and anxiety) and FIQ total score. Manual lymph drainage therapy might be preferred; however, further long-term follow-up studies are needed.