Objective: It is a traditional practice in the Alpine region of Trentino and Alto Adige (Italy) to use phytothermotherapeutic treatment with fermenting grass ("hay baths") for rheumatic diseases. However, despite its long history and popularity, a clinical validation of the efficacy and tolerability of the treatment has yet to be found in current literature. Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is characterised by generalised musculoskeletal pain, high tender point counts, sleep disturbance, fatigue, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, frequent psychological distress and depressed mood. There is no standard therapy regime for FMS and the variety of medical treatments used have given limited benefits. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and tolerability of a cycle of phytothermotherapy through a single-blind, controlled, randomised trial, in patients with primary FMS.
Methods: Fifty-six patients with primary FMS according to the ACR criteria were randomly allocated to two groups: 30 were submitted to phytothermotherapy at the thermal resort of Garniga Terme (Trento, Italy) and the other 26 were considered as controls. All patients were evaluated by FIQ, Tender Points Count, HAQ and AIMS1 at baseline, after 10 days, then after 12 and 24 weeks.
Results: Patients submitted to phytothermotherapy showed visible and significant improvement of all evaluation parameters at the end of the treatment, which persisted during the follow-up period. No significant difference was found in the control group. Regarding the tolerability, none of the patients presented side effects.
Conclusions: Our results suggest the efficacy and the tolerability of phytothermotherapy in patients with primary FMS.