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Gentle Touch Therapy, Pain Relief and Neuroplasticity at Baseline in Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Randomized, Multicenter Trial with Six-Month Follow-Up


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Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

J Clin Med. 2022 Aug 20;11(16):4898.
doi: 10.3390/jcm11164898.


Afonso Shiguemi Inoue Salgado, Miriam Hatsue Takemoto, Carla Fernanda Tallarico Carvalho de Souza, Daiana Cristina Salm, Danielli da Rosa, Gabriela Correa Cardoso, Daniela Dero Ludtke, Silvia Fiorillo Cabrera Soares, Júlia Koerich Ferreira, Aline Raulino Dutra, Yuri Cordeiro Szeremeta, Gustavo Mazzardo, Joice Mayra, Débora da Luz Sheffer, Wolnei Caumo, Edsel B Bittencourt, Robert Schleip, Alexandra Latini, Franciane Bobinski, Daniel Fernandes Martins


Background: Fibromyalgia (FM) is considered a stress-related disorder characterized mainly by chronic widespread pain. Its pathogenesis is unknown, but cumulative evidence points at dysfunctional transmitter systems and inflammatory biomarkers that may underlie the major symptoms of the condition. This study aimed to evaluate pain scores (primary outcome), quality of life, inflammatory biomarkers and neurotransmitter systems in women with FM (secondary outcomes) subjected to gentle touch therapy (GTT) or placebo.

Methods: A total of 64 female patients with FM were randomly assigned to two groups, namely GTT (n = 32) or Placebo (n = 32). Clinical assessments were conducted at baseline and post-intervention with six-month follow-up. We measured serum catecholamines (dopamine), indolamines and intermediary metabolites (serotonin or 5-hydroxyindolacetic acid (5-HIAA)), as well as tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), which is a cofactor for the synthesis of neurotransmitters and inflammatory biomarkers in women with FM. A group of healthy individuals with no intervention (control group) was used to compare biochemical measurements. Intervention effects were analyzed using repeated measures (RM) two-way ANOVA followed by Bonferroni post hoc test and mixed ANCOVA model with intention to treat.

Results: Compared to placebo, the GTT group presented lower pain scores and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels without altering the quality of life of women with FM. Changes in BDNF had a mediating role in pain. Higher baseline serum BDNF and 5-HIAA or those with a history of anxiety disorder showed a higher reduction in pain scores across time. However, women with higher serum dopamine levels at baseline showed a lower effect of the intervention across the observation period revealed by an ANCOVA mixed model.

Conclusions: In conclusion, lower pain scores were observed in the GTT group compared to the placebo group without altering the quality of life in women with FM. Reductions in BDNF levels could be a mechanism of FM pain status improvement. In this sense, the present study encourages the use of these GTT techniques as an integrative and complementary treatment of FM.

Publication Date: 

2022 Aug



Salgado, ISA., Takemoto, HM., Souza, dCTF., Salm, CD., Rosa, dD., Cardoso, CG., Ludtke, DD., Soares, CFS., Ferreira, KJ., Dutra, RA., Szeremeta, CY., Mazzardo, G., Mayra, J., Sheffer, LdD., Caumo, W., Bittencourt, BE., Schleip, R., Latini, A., Bobinski, F., Martins, FD. (2022) 'Gentle Touch Therapy, Pain Relief and Neuroplasticity at Baseline in Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Randomized, Multicenter Trial with Six-Month Follow-Up', J Clin Med. 2022 Aug 20;11(16):4898. doi: 10.3390/jcm11164898.

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