While fibromyalgia is the most common disease seen in women by their rheumatologists, it has emerged as a condition that is darn difficult to treat. To that end, a research group from the University of Basel has suggested a new type of treatment as an effective method for alleviating the symptoms of fibromyalgia. This new treatment is a systematic program called Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) that can reduce the suffering associated with a large number of medical ailments of which fibromyalgia is just one.
The researchers found improvement in a variety of aspects pertaining to the general well-being of fibromyalgia patients who used MBSR. Chief among these areas where improvement was seen were coping ability, a positive attitude, a lessening of depression and anxiety, decreased symptoms, and far greater quality of life (QoL). The researchers analyzed the effects of MBSR versus social support groups over a period of 8 weeks in 58 middle-aged women with fibromyalgia.
The groups formed according to the date of entry of the participants with 6 participants dropping out of the study before completion of the program. Those participating in the study measured their own progress by various means such as visual analog pain, pain perception, coping with pain, quality of life, and a checklist of symptoms.
The visual analog pain involves using common adjectives to describe the level of pain at a given point. The patient supplies the date, the activity performed at the time the pain is experienced, and records the beginning and ending of the pain experience.
Pain perception has to do with the particular sensitivities of the individual. For instance, most of us are not aware of the pressure of the clothing we wear on our skin.
Coping with pain has to do with our response to pain at any given time. Do we freak out, or act brave? Are we depressed or insist on being positive in the face of adversity?
Quality of life is the level of our ability to feel fulfillment as we go about living our daily lives.
The German study assessed the data as reported by the patients both before and during the treatment with MBSR. It was also possible to create a 3 year follow-up report on 26 of the original participants. MBSR appeared to offer far greater benefits as compared to support groups in terms of all the categories of measurement performed by the participants. The three year follow-up of the 26 participants suggested that the benefits seen in MBSR were of long-term benefit to females with fibromyalgia.