These Brain Waves May Tame Fibromyalgia
That's a big advantage over some other approaches, such as massage, because it doesn't require "special appointments or a trip outside the home," he points out.
The results of the electrotherapy treatment were "very surprising," says Lichtbroun.
Physicians determine how severe a case of fibromyalgia is by testing "tender points" -- areas of highly localized pain. The study participants who had real electrotherapy treatment had a 28% improvement in tender-point scores and a 27% improvement in the amount of general pain they felt.
But most surprising, says Lichtbroun, was that only 5% of the treated patients reported having sleep disturbances after treatment, compared with 60% who had sleep problems before beginning electrotherapy treatments.
And 90% of the treated patients reported that their quality of life had improved as a result of treatment, while 20% of the patients who were in the fake treatment group said their quality of life had declined.
These results are almost too good, says Robert S. Katz, MD.
"Fibromyalgia is a very challenging condition from the standpoint of treatment," says Katz, associate professor of medicine at Rush Medical School, in Chicago. "I would be very impressed with a treatment that had a 50% improvement, but 90% makes me very skeptical."
Some other treatments have claimed equally impressive initial results, Katz says, but the improvement is seldom long-lasting.
"I would like to see some findings on the long-term results of this treatment," he says. Even in the short term, Lichtbroun's findings "need to be reproduced by other investigators before we can consider recommending this treatment," he adds.
Lichtbroun says he, too, would like to see the findings replicated in another study. Until then, he says, he is offering all his fibromyalgia patients "one free treatment with the devices."
Offering a freebie treatment is important because the electrotherapy devices range in price from $400 to $700, he says. "Some insurance companies will pay for the device, but many won't, and so the patient has to pay for it."