Rheumatology International

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

Qualitative systemic review of randomized controlled trials on complementary and alternative medicine treatments in fibromyalgia

  • Julia Baranowsky
  • Petra Klose
  • Frauke Musial
  • Winfried Haeuser
  • Gustav Dobos
  • Jost Langhorst


The objectives of the study were identification, quality evaluation and summary of RCTs on complementary and alternative medicine as defined by the National Institute of Health with the exception of dietary and nutritional supplements. A computerized search of databases from 1990 (year of publication of the ACR criteria for fibromyalgia) to July 2007 was performed. The RCTs were assessed by a methodological quality score. A total of 23 RCTs issued from 1992 to 2007 on acupuncture, balneotherapy, thermotherapy, magnetic therapy, homeopathy, manual manipulation, mind–body medicine, diet therapy and music therapy were identified. The RCTs had an average group size of 25 with the number of groups ranging from two to four. The quality score assessment of the RCTs yielded a mean score of 51 out of 100. The average methodological quality of the identified studies was fairly low. Best evidence was found for balneotherapy/hydrotherapy in multiple studies. Positive results were also noted for homeopathy and mild infrared hyperthermia in 1 RCT in each field. Mindfulness meditation showed mostly positive results in two trials and acupuncture mixed results in multiple trials with a tendency toward positive results. Tendencies for improvement were furthermore noted in single trials of the Mesendieck system, connective tissue massage and to some degree for osteopathy and magnet therapy. No positive evidence could be identified for Qi Gong, biofeedback, and body awareness therapy.


Qualitative systemic review Acupuncture Balneotherapy Thermotherapy Magnetic therapy Homeopathy Manual manipulation Mind–body medicine Diet therapy Music therapy 



Fibromyalgia syndrome


Randomized controlled trial


Complementary and alternative medicine


Fibromyalgia impact questionnaire


Tender point


Tender point count


Visual analog scale


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Baranowsky
    • 1
  • Petra Klose
    • 1
  • Frauke Musial
    • 1
  • Winfried Haeuser
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gustav Dobos
    • 1
  • Jost Langhorst
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine, Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Kliniken Essen-MitteUniversity Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Internal Medicine I, Klinikun SaarbrückenSaarbrückenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Psychosomatic MedicineTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany

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