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A Randomized Controlled Trial on the Effectiveness of Mild Water-filtered Near Infrared Whole-body Hyperthermia as an Adjunct to a Standard Multimodal Rehabilitation in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia

Brockow, Thomas MD*; Wagner, Andreas MD; Franke, Annegret PhD*; Offenbächer, Martin MD, MPH; Resch, Karl L. MD, PhD*

The Clinical Journal of Pain: January 2007 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 67-75
doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31802b4f80
Original Articles

Objectives To evaluate whether mild water-filtered near infrared whole-body hyperthermia (NI-WBH) produces an additional benefit when applied as an adjunct to a standard multimodal rehabilitation (MR) compared with MR only in patients with fibromyalgia (FM).

Methods One hundred thirty-nine patients of a German inpatient rehabilitation hospital meeting the ACR 1990 criteria for FM were randomly allocated to NI-WBH (heating-up to 38.1 degrees C body core temperature followed by a 15 min heat retention period) and MR or MR only, twice a week over 3 weeks. Main outcome measures were affective and sensory pain assessed by a German version of the McGill Pain Questionnaire, measured at baseline, postintervention, 3 and 6 months postintervention and analyzed by intention to treat.

Results Repeated measures analysis of covariance showed significant differences between groups for both primary outcome measures in favor of NI-WBH and MR compared with MR only (P<0.001 for affective pain, P=0.001 for sensory pain). Secondary analyses on pain intensity, FM-related quality of life and tender point assessment yielded similar results. Moderate effect sizes were observed for all outcome measures considered (range, 0.41 to 0.75). NI-WBH related side effects were observed in 14 of 69 participants (20%) but all disappeared in less than 30 minutes.

Discussion The study indicates that NI-WBH is a worthwhile adjunct to MR in the treatment of FM.

*Spa Medicine Research Institute Bad Elster, Lindenstr. 5, 08645 Bad Elster, Germany

Rehabilitation Hospital Hoher Meissner, Hardtstr. 36, 37242 Bad Sooden-Allendorf

Department of Medical Psychology at the University of Munich, 80336 München

Reprints: Thomas Brockow, MD, Spa Medicine Research Institute Bad Elster, Lindenstr. 5, 08645 Bad Elster, Germany (e-mail:

Received for publication May 19, 2006; accepted August 28, 2006

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.