Fibromyalgia May Be Eased By Phone Talk Therapy, Study Finds

A small, UK-based study into therapies to treat chronic fibromyalgia-related pain found that in some cases, talk therapy may be highly effective in treating the condition.

442 people living in the UK who suffer from “chronic, widespread pain” were included in the study, and divided into groups. One group received 10 sessions with a cognitive behavioral therapist, one group had the 10 CBT sessions as well as free sessions with a fitness instructor and recommendations to exercise regularly, with a control group receiving no changes to their fibromyalgia treatment. Prior to the study and then again after six months, participants answered questions about pain, quality of life and overall health.

Researchers discovered that about one-third of the patients in the CBT group reported feeling “much better” or “very much better” at the six-month mark, compared to less than one in ten who did not have any changes to their treatment. According to some researchers not involved with the study, the results are interesting because cognitive behavioral therapy is not often administered via phone and such initiatives could significantly reduce costs:

“There’s no doubt that cognitive behavioral therapy can be very helpful in people managing chronic pain,” said Kevin Fontaine, a fibromyalgia researcher from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

However, “One of the difficulties with any sort of intervention with people that have fibromyalgia is sticking to it. This idea of delivering it via a phone call… has a lot of appeal to it,” Fontaine, who wasn’t involved in the new study, told Reuters Health.

Even as an over the phone therapy, however, CBT starts at around $100. Researchers plan to explore more cost-saving strategies for CBT as a fibromyalgia treatment.