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An overview of systematic reviews of complementary and alternative medicine for fibromyalgia


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain condition which is difficult to diagnose and to treat. Most individuals suffering from FM use a variety of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) interventions to treat and manage their symptoms. The aim of this overview was to critically evaluate all systematic reviews of single CAM interventions for the treatment of FM. Five systematic reviews met the inclusion criteria, evaluating the effectiveness of homoeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, hydrotherapy and massage. The reviews found some evidence of beneficial effects arising from acupuncture, homoeopathy, hydrotherapy and massage, whilst no evidence for therapeutic effects from chiropractic interventions for the treatment of FM symptoms was found. The implications of these findings and future directions for the application of CAM in chronic pain conditions, as well as for CAM research, are discussed.

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We would like to express our gratitude to Leala Watson for her assistance with the search strategy and to Igho Onakpoya for his advice and help in the preparation of this manuscript. We would also like to thank an anonymous reviewer for the constructive and valuable comments during the preparation of this work.

Conflict of interests

We would like to point out that Edzard Ernst is the author of Chiropractic treatment for fibromyalgia: a systematic review, and Rachel Perry, Rohini Terry and Edzard Ernst are the authors of A systematic review of homoeopathy for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

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Correspondence to Rohini Terry.

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Terry, R., Perry, R. & Ernst, E. An overview of systematic reviews of complementary and alternative medicine for fibromyalgia. Clin Rheumatol 31, 55–66 (2012).

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  • Complementary/alternative medicine (CAM)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Systematic review