The effectiveness of aquatic physical therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia: a systematic review with meta-analysis.

The authors conducted this study to examine the effectiveness of aquatic physical therapy in treating of fibromyalgia. Their search strategy was conducted using the following databases, from 1950 to December 2012: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, LILACS, SCIELO, WEB OF SCIENCE, SCOPUS, SPORTDiscus, Cochrane Library Controlled Trials Register, Cochrane Disease Group Trials Register, PEDro and DARE. They dived the studies into groups: Group I – aquatic physical therapy × no treatment, Group II – aquatic physical therapy × land-based exercises and Group III – aquatic physical therapy × other treatments.Results:Seventy-two abstracts were found, 27 of which met the inclusion criteria. For the functional ability (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire), they considered three studies with a treatment time of more than 20 weeks and a mean difference (MD) of -1.35 [-2.04; -0.67], P = 0.0001 was found in favour of the aquatic physical therapy group versus no treatment. The same results were identified for stiffness and the 6-minute walk test where two studies were pooled with an MD of -1.58 [-2.58; -0.58], P = 0.002 and 43.5 (metres) [3.8; 83.2], P = 0.03, respectively.

They concluded that the three meta-analyses produced statistically significant results in favour of the aquatic physical therapy (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, stiffness and the 6-minute walk test) during a period of longer than 20 weeks. Though they added that because of the light methodological rigor employed, their findings were inadequate  to demonstrate statistical and clinical differences in most of the outcomes.

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