Researchers from the Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany, performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of meditative movement therapies or MMT (Qigong, Tai Chi and Yoga) for fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).

Data bases were screened for randomized, controlled trials that compared MMT to controls with FMS. Outcomes of efficacy were for pain, sleep, fatigue, depression and health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

A total of 7 out of 117 studies with 362 subjects and a median of 12 sessions (range 8-24) were included.

MMT reduced sleep disturbances (-0.61 [-0.95, -0.27]; 0.0004), fatigue (-0.66 [-0.99, -0.34]; <0.0001), depression (-0.49 [-0.76, -0.22]; 0.0004) and limitations on HRQOL (-0.59 [-0.93, -0.24]; 0.0009), but not pain (-0.35 [-0.80, 0.11]; 0.14) as compared to the controls by the end of treatment.

Significant improvement on sleep disturbances (-0.52 [-0.97, -0.07]; 0.02) and quality of life were maintained at 3-6 months.
In subgroup analyses, only Yoga yielded significant effects on pain, fatigue, depression and quality of life at final treatment.  Safety was ascertained by the finding that no serious adverse events were reported.
This review concludes that meditative movement therapies are safe, and that yoga had short-term beneficial effects on some key domains of FMS. There is a need for high-quality studies with larger sample sizes to confirm the results.

Citation: Langhorst J, Klose P, Dobos GJ, Bernardy K, Häuser W. Efficacy and safety of meditative movement therapies in fibromyalgia syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Rheumatology International. 2013 Jan;33 (1): pages 193-207. [email protected]