Alternative medicine use in fibromyalgia syndrome

Arthritis Care Res. 1996 Feb;9(1):13-7. doi: 10.1002/art.1790090105.


Objective: To record the prevalence, extent, cost, and satisfaction with use of alternative medicine practices by patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), compared to control rheumatology patients.

Methods: An interviewer-based questionnaire was administered to 221 consecutive rheumatology patients and 80 FMS patients.

Results: Alternative medicine interventions were currently being used extensively by rheumatology patients overall, and by FMS patients in particular. All categories of alternative practices were used more often by FMS patients, compared to controls, including overall use 91% versus 63% (P = 0.0001), over-the-counter products 70% versus 54% (NS), spiritual practices 48% versus 37% (NS), and alternative practitioners 26% versus 12% (P = 0.003), respectively. Two-thirds of patients using alternative medicine practices were concurrently using multiple interventions. Patient satisfaction ratings were highest for spiritual interventions.

Conclusions: Alternative medicine practices were currently being used by almost all FMS patients. This observation might indicate that traditional medical therapies are inadequate in providing symptomatic relief to FMS patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Complementary Therapies / methods
  • Complementary Therapies / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Rheumatic Diseases / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires