Electrothermal and phototherapeutic resources to treat fibromyalgia

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Fibromyalgia (FM) is a syndrome of unknown etiology, chronic and non-articular, with typical features of pain diffused through the body, presence of specific tender points, muscle fatigue, sleep disorders, depressive symptoms and cognitive complaints. Electrothermal and phototherapy are widely used in physical therapy as part of the global rehabilitation program to decrease FM symptoms. This study aimed at grouping and updating knowledge on electrothermal and phototherapeutic resources used to treat FM patients. CONTENTS: Literature was researched in the electronic databases MedLine, LILACS, Cochrane, PubMed and Scielo, from January 2005 to December 2010, being found seven potentially relevant studies. Among them, two have used low potency laser, four have used electrical stimulation and one has used therapeutic ultrasound. Electrothermal and phototherapeutic resources have been increasingly used to treat pain, which is the primary FM symptom. CONCLUSION: Electrothermal and phototherapeutic resources have been a constant tool to treat FM, however new resources, such as transcranial stimulation currents have appeared. Generalizations about the benefits of electrothermal and phototherapy, adverse effects and doses to treat FM still need further studies with higher methodological rigor.

Fibromyalgia; Pain; Physical therapy modalities

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