Online Pain Management Courses May Benefit Fibromyalgia Patients

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Research suggests that taking an online, cognitive-behavioral pain management course can significantly improve depression, pain, and fear of pain in fibromyalgia patients.

A five-lesson course, called the Pain Course, was designed to benefit individuals with fibromyalgia, especially those who have problems accessing or attending in-person treatment sessions.

To determine the course’s effectiveness 30 fibromyalgia patients were randomly assigned to take the online pain management course, and 30 were assigned to a control group. The course’s five sessions were delivered online to the active group over an eight-week period; phone, or email support was also available from a doctorate-level clinical psychology student. Those in the control group had an opportunity to take the course after the study’s completion.

Participants taking the course studied various topics such as the relationship between thought and symptoms, strategies for monitoring and challenging depression and pain-related thoughts, calming the body with controlled breathing, pacing oneself, and gradually increasing physical activity.

Participant symptoms were assessed before and after taking the course, and at a four-week follow-up. Course completion and satisfaction ratings were high, at 87, and 86 percent.

Compared to the control group, those taking the course showed significant improvements in measures for fibromyalgia (18 percent reduction), depression (20-28 percent reduction), pain (11 percent improvement), and fear of pain (12 percent improvement). There were also small improvements in anxiety and physical well-being.

“These findings highlight the significant potential of internet-delivered programs in the treatment of [fibromyalgia], especially as part of stepped-care models of service, and provide important information for program developers and funders,” wrote the researchers.

“With additional evidence, it is hoped that in the future, government-funded health care organizations would have an interest in providing the Pain Course or similar courses to fibromyalgia patients, thus improving access to treatment and alleviating the burden of chronic pain.”

Source: Neurology Advisor
Photo credit: Andrew_Writer


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Fibromyalgia is a prevalent condition that affects many people in the United States. Approximately 3.7 million Americans have Fibromyalgia. That is 1 in every 73 people.

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