Patients with fibromyalgia reduced pain and improved functional capacity, quality of life and self-image after beginning a belly dance program in a recent study.
Researchers in Brazil studied 80 women with fibromyalgia, who were randomly assigned to a dance group (n=40; mean age, 49.5 years) or control group (n=40; mean age, 49.1 years) placed on a waiting list. The dance group participated in 1-hour belly dance classes twice a week for 16 weeks, with movements involving the upper limbs, scapular girdle, trunk and hips. A masked physiotherapist evaluated pain assessment, functional capacity, quality of life, depression, anxiety and self-image at baseline, 16 weeks and 32 weeks.
Compared with controls, the dance cohort significantly improved from baseline to 32 weeks in visual analog scale for pain (7.7 to 4.7 for dance vs. 7.5 to 7.3 for controls; P<.001), 6-minute walk test (372.8 m to 431 m vs. 332 m to 343 m; P<.001), Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire score (5.89 to 4.26 vs. 6.34 to 5.9; P=.003), and Body Dysmorphic Disorder Examination (42.8 to 41.1 vs. 48.8 to 46.9; P<.009). In Short Form-36 Health Survey subscales, the dance group improved in pain (29.6 to 46 vs. 25.7 to 29.1; P<.001), emotional aspects (34.2 to 51.9 vs. 21.2 to 31.5; P<.003) and mental health (46 to 52.3 vs. 43.4 to 46.2; P<.021).
“Consensus is needed regarding the importance of exercise in the treatment of fibromyalgia,” the researchers concluded. “Patient education regarding how to initiate and continue exercise is crucial to the success of treatment. … Belly dance leads to improvement in pain, sleep pattern, functional capacity and self-image in patients with fibromyalgia. [It is] a safe, effective therapeutic strategy for women with fibromyalgia.”