It seems like every other day some new study comes out linking cell phones to conditions as varied as carpal tunnel syndrome, rashes, and brain tumors. Of course, this is totally aside from the very real threat posed by automobile accidents that occur because drivers are distracted from the task at hand by talking or texting on their cell phones. But what if there were actually healthy benefits to be had from using your cell phone? You might feel differently about letting your teenage daughter get one. In truth, phones can finally offer more than just a lifeline during an emergency situation. Those with fibromyalgia, or chronic widespread pain, can now receive alternative treatments for their condition just by dialing a number.
It is estimated that nearly one in every ten Americans now suffers from this ongoing and mysterious condition, at least to some degree. And as anyone diagnosed with fibromyalgia can tell you, the medical treatments are expensive. Between doctor visits, tests, and pharmaceuticals (just to name a few related costs), those that live with chronic pain can spend several thousand dollars each year trying to manage the condition. In many cases, multiple forms of treatment are needed and often, the prescribed courses actually do very little to help.
But it seems there is an alternative. A new joint study performed in the UK by the University of Aberdeen and the University of Manchester followed the treatment of 442 chronic-pain patients between the ages of 25 and 60 to see if certain alternative (and far less expensive) forms of therapy could work to significantly improve their condition. And the remedies they chose were exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy, with a twist. Participants in the study received these treatments exclusively by phone.
The results were informative, to say the least. The control group, which received neither of these treatments over the course of the 6-month study, only had 8.1% of participants report an improvement in their condition. But a whopping 34.8% of those who received their exercise regimens by phone claimed to feel “better” or “very much better” after their round of treatment while a still exceptional 29.9% of the group participating in cognitive behavioral therapy had the same report. And of the group that received both forms of therapy, 37.2% reported improved conditions. These numbers seemed to be holding steady when researchers checked in with participants three months later.
Since the causes of fibromyalgia remain unclear, many people who suffer from the condition are still seeking ways to control their chronic widespread pain. The prescription for treatment often involves painkillers, which many people would prefer not to take because of the many side effects (an inability to operate heavy machinery and of course, the addictive nature of most such medications). But it seems that a good portion of patients may now benefit from nothing more than a landline and a prepaid phone card. And as for those that have cell phones, it seems that the health benefits of using them may now outweigh the potential risks. For more information on this study, see the report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.