Fibromyalgia (FM), as most our readers know, is a condition that involves widespread tenderness, elevated perception of pain, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties on a persistent basis. As there is no cure for FM, those with FM look for options to manage their ongoing symptoms.

One very common suggestion (besides medication) is exercise. I can hear the groans. When you are dealing with ongoing pain, you're not going to be particularly eager to add exercise even if studies show both aerobic and resistance training help with FM symptom management.

Another technique is biofeedback, which offers the power of diversion – trying to train your brain into thinking away from the pain you are experiencing.

A 2018 review by Julia Bidonde, MSc, PhD, and colleagues looked at the research and came up with another suggestion: dance. It turns out that dance is a great idea for FM. Her review pointed out that dance has a positive history for other chronic conditions, even when you compare it with other types of other exercise. Dance improves physical function and overall health, plus lowers the risk of cardiovascular mortality.

What’s more, dance is perceived as being fun so you are more likely to participate. Dancing makes you happy. It has a "positive effect on mood, everyday competencies, and social life," all of which impact FM. Even the notorious brain fog could potentially benefit by dancing because of the "auditory, visual and sensory stimulation." And dance requires focus, offering a diversion away from pain as you pay attention and learn the moves – which in turn stimulates brain plasticity and your muscial notesability to continue to learn.

Another reason to dance? People in pain sometimes isolate themselves. Yet social interaction may actually improve your ability to deal with pain. It seems one particularly interesting topic the review addressed was the connection between physical and social pain. The review discussed studies that indicated physical pain and social pain share similar "neural circuitry." For example, social rejection or exclusion, fear of public speaking, and so on, may "feel" very similar to physical pain. When socialization suffers, pain perception may also become worse, in this theory. As a "social" exercise, dance may help symptom management for FM.

While this area of research is still young, the good thing about dance is that you don't need to participate in a clinical trial to see if it helps you! Join a local class at your community center or a club. Ask a friend to partner with you. Waltz with your spouse in your living room. Perhaps turning on your favorite music in the evening and dancing along may be the best move you can make!

Source: JMIR Rehabil Assist Technol 1/18.