Dance/Movement Therapy in Fibromyalgia Patients Aspects and Consequences of Verbal, Visual and Hormonal Analyses

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: This thesis presents hormonal, emotional, physical and visual status changes in female fibromyalgia (FMS) patients after treatment with the Creative Art therapy; dance/movement therapy, compared to controls. FMS is a syndrome of chronic pain involving musculoskeletal aches, stiffness and pain where perturbations in the stress-axis and high scores on somatic anxiety and muscular tension also have been found. The study comprises thirty-six female FMS patients divided in treatment- and control group. Serum concentrations of the hormones prolactin, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S), cortisol and neuropeptide Y (NPY) in plasma and cortisol in saliva were analysed. Different verbal self-rating scales concerning well-being, pain, personality and life events among other things have been used. Assessments of the condition of the FMS patients affected by video-viewing were evaluated together with interviews about the self-perception phenomenon of video viewing (a phenomenological hermeneutic method). The results of the study show that six months of dance/movement therapy appears sufficient to improve both psychological and physical function, as indicated by the visual analyses. The video interpretation technique (VIT) and self-figure drawings captured treatment effects that were not evident from verbal scales or reflected in hormone levels. The biological markers probably need a longer treatment period to activate the HPA axis and its inter-related hormones and peptides. The use of different assessment techniques most likely has affected the treatment outcome. Difficulties perceiving information through verbal/cognitive modalities as well as alexithymia are factors discussed. The VIT may be useful for early identification of maladaptive movement patterns and as a mirror of facial and bodily expressions of emotions. In conclusion, this study indicates that both the dance/movement therapy and the VIT have had great influence on the FMS patient’s well-being, self-perception and perception of pain.