Balneotherapy, or spa bathing that usually involves minerals in the water, is often used to address symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. (Massage therapists working at spas might expect to have balneotherapy attendant included as one of their duties.) New research shows balneotherapy improves respiration and pain symptoms among fibromyalgia patients.

Fifty-six patients were randomized into three groups. One group received physical therapy modalities plus balneotherapy; one group received only physical therapy modalities; and one group received physical therapy modalities plus hydrotherapy, according to an abstract published on

All groups were treated for three weeks and in the same season, and all patients were assessed at four time points: at baseline, on the seventh day of therapy, at the end of therapy, and at the six months after the end of therapy, the abstract noted, and the effectiveness of treatments in all groups were evaluated in three main categories: pain, depressive and respiratory symptoms.

All three groups experienced improvement in symptoms, and the balneotherapy group experienced the greatest improvements in respiration.

“Our results suggest that supplementation of [physical therapy modalities] with balneotherapy is effective on the respiratory and other symptoms of [fibromyalgia syndrome] and these effects were better than other protocols at six-month follow up,” the researchers noted.

“The efficacy of balneotherapy and physical modalities on the pulmonary system of patients with fibromyalgia” was published in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation. The study was conducted by researchers at the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department of Istanbul University, Istanbul Medical Faculty, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Related articles:

Spa Therapy for Fibromyalgia

Massage Improves Sleep, Decreases Pain and Substance P in Fibromyalgia Patients

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Improved by Lifestyle Adjustments