Tanning Beds a Good Alternative Treatment for Fibromyalgia

Researchers found that UV exposure resulted in greater positive affect, well-being, relaxation, and reduced pain levels when compared to non-UV exposure.

Researchers from the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center released the results from a preliminary study that was evaluating the effect tanning had on patients with fibromyalgia (FMS). A group of dermatologists, rheumatologists, and public health sciences researchers found that ultraviolet light may “help relieve pain in fibromyalgia syndrome patients.”

This study piggybacks on a previous one in which researchers evaluated tanning addiction during which participants were found to have a decrease in back pain.

The randomized, two-arm study was a two-step process during which 19 patients with FMS were exposed to UV and non-UV rays in tanning beds three times a week, for two weeks. Researchers followed this with four weeks of a treatment regimen in which patients were split into two groups exposed to either UV or non-UV rays.

Four weeks post-treatment, researchers conducted follow up interviews with each participant during which they assessed pain levels using the Likert scale, a visual analogue pain scale, and the McGill Pain Questionnaire.

After reviewing the results, the researchers found that “tanning beds may have some potential in reducing pain in persons with FMS.”

Kenneth S. O’Rourke, MD, a rheumatologist at Wake Forest Baptist and a researcher on the study, said, “The evaluation of alternative therapies for patients with fibromyalgia syndrome, based on our increased understanding of how pain signals are generated and sustained, is an important pursuit at many clinical research centers.”