We studied whether whirl baths with plain water or with water containing pine oil or valerian have a different influence on pain, disturbed sleep or tender point count.
A randomized, comparative and investigator-blinded study was performed. Out-patients with generalized fibromyalgia were randomized into three treatment groups.
Therapy consisted of either whirl bath with plain water or with the addition of pine oil or valerian. The baths were carried out 10 times, three times a week.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
General pain, change of pain intensity during the day, general well-being and occurrence of disturbed sleep were recorded before and after the therapy. The number of tender points was assessed by digital palpation, the pain threshold on the shinbone and the middle part of the deltoid muscle was measured by the dolorimeter of A. Fischer. The same instrument was used for recording pain threshold and pain tolerance of both trapezius muscles. The tissue compliance of these muscles was measured as well.
30 out of 39 patients included in the study were evaluated statistically. After treatment with valerian bath (n = 12) well-being and sleep were significantly improved and also the tender point count decreased significantly. Pine oil added to the bath water (n = 7) resulted in a significant improvement of well-being, but unfortunately also in a significant decrease of pain threshold of the shinbone and the right deltoid muscle. Whirl bath in plain water (n = 11) reduced general and maximum pain intensity significantly.
Our cautious conclusion of this study is - with respect to the small number of treated patients - that different effects of whirl baths with or without medicinal bath oils can be detected in fibromyalgia patients. Plain water baths modify the pain intensity, medicinal baths improve well-being and sleep.