For thousands of years, hot water has been used as a treatment for musculoskeletal aches and pains throughout cultures and locations far apart. Distinct sites endowed with unique physical and chemical qualities have attracted the attention of individuals suffering from a wide range of issues traditionally clustered under the title of “rheumatism,” as well as for social, ritual and recreational purposes.
Although the exact processes underlying the calming and curing ability of warm water remain incompletely known, the scope and variety of literature surrounding these types of treatment tend to make it self-evident that therapeutic value does exist. On the other hand , it is difficult to make evidence-based decisions in a sector where therapies are too complex and lack standardisation.
Bathing in hot springs or mineral baths
For thousands of years, treatment of ailments with bathing in hot springs or mineral baths was popular. Such technique was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and they had whole cities devoted to the therapeutic bathing. This therapy ‘s popularity fell with the Roman Empire but in the Victorian era it regained attention. This treatment has remained popular in Japan, parts of Europe and the Middle East, and these are the places where the trend of Balneotherapy research for the treatment of various ailments, including fibromyalgia, started.
Balneotherapy as an alternative treatment
Balneotherapy for the treatment of debilitating rheumatic conditions such as osteoarthritis, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis was widely used. Fibromyalgia is a disabling disease , characterized by chronic generalized pain and tenderness, with virtually unexplained etiology and pathogenesis.
There is currently no consistently effective pharmacologic treatment for fibromyalgia. Because of this condition’s complexity and poor response to pharmacological treatments, patients often look for complementary or alternative therapies. While the precise calming and healing mechanisms of warm water are not yet fully understood, the application of balneotherapy to supplement the fibromyalgia treatment may be an effective solution.
What is Balneotherapy?
Balneotherapy is a type of spa therapy that has been used for thousands of years by humans, including the ancient Greeks and Romans, to naturally treat diseases. Not to be confused with hydrotherapy, balneotherapy is a type of therapeutic soaking, using water’s refresh properties to rejuvenate the body.
There have been many studies in the past to illustrate how balneotherapy can provide pain relief in patients with fibromyalgia. There have been many studies over the years to determine whether or not balneotherapy is successful in reducing pain for patients suffering from fibromyalgia. Many of the results were positive, showing that this type of therapy can definitely play a role in reducing pain , tenderness, depression and anxiety while at the same time increasing the quality of life for a patient.
Balneotherapy Benefits Fibromyalgia Patients
New research shows balneotherapy in patients with fibromyalgia improves respiration and pain symptoms. Fifty six patients were divided into three groups at random. One group received modalities of physical therapy plus balneotherapy; one group received just modalities of physical therapy; and one group received modalities of physical therapy plus hydrotherapy.
All participants were monitored for three weeks and in the same season, and all patients were assessed at four time points: at beginning, on the seventh day of therapy, at the conclusion of therapy, and at six months after the completion of therapy, the analysis and the effectiveness of therapies were assessed in three key categories: pain, depressive and respiratory symptoms.
Both three groups experienced symptom relief, and the balneotherapy community experienced the biggest respiratory changes. “Our findings suggest that supplementing [physical therapy modalities] with balneotherapy is effective on the respiratory and other [fibromyalgia syndrome] symptoms, and these effects were better than other six-month follow-up protocols,” the researchers noted.
Application of water for medicinal purposes
Water is the core of life. Like other modes of life, humans are completely dependent on water continuously being available, and human society has naturally evolved alongside fresh water sources. Not unexpectedly, water has been given a prominent role in human society, worship, and leisure since the antiquity.
The metaphysical and moral element of healing (the body and possibly the soul as well) was ascribed to water, and as such it was therefore believed to possess the power to purify, right and heal. Thus the use of water for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient times and is found around the globe in diverse and far-reaching cultures.
Balneotherapy vs. Hydrotherapy
Balneotherapy and hydrotherapy are very separate. Hydrotherapy is similar to water physical therapy and uses the buoyancy and resistance offered by the water to help improve the range of motion and energy.
Balneotherapy is more focused on the water temperature and mineral content for the bath’s analgesic and relaxing effects. In this therapy, common minerals added to the water are salt, sulfur, and magnesium to soothe and help with relaxation, but traditionally they use natural sources of hot mineral water for treatment.
The integration of nonpharmacological interventions into fibromyalgia management has been gaining considerable recognition. Balneotherapy provides effective forms of treatment that can be tailored to each patient’s skills and desires, without having any major side effects.
Fibromyalgia balneotherapy can not replace traditional therapy, but can provide a supportive solution or an option for patients who do not accept pharmacological therapies. There may or may not be a therapist present during the duration of your session, depending on the type of balneotherapy.
Some treatments can also include massage during bathing. Typically, balneotherapy sessions last approximately 20 to 25 minutes but this time may be more or less depending on the treatment you receive.
- Is Balneotherapy an Effective Treatment for Fibro? by james peglar via Fibromyalgia Treating