Medical Matters > Alternative treatments: Flotation tank

ME Essential Winter 2023


A friend of mine who has a painful rheumatic disease has been using a local floatation tank to help relieve her pain. I have quite a lot of ME related joint and muscle pain and the drugs that have been prescribed are of very limited benefit.

Is this something that’s worth trying for pain in ME? Are there any potential side-effects?


A floatation tank – also known as a desensitisation tank – is normally filled with highly concentrated salt water that is heated to body temperature. The aim is to allow people to relax, or drift into a meditative state, in a dark and soundless environment.
These tanks can produce a high degree of relaxation and may help to temporarily reduce anxiety, stress, muscle tension and pain. Whether this benefit can persist without frequent ‘top ups’ is uncertain.
Floatation tanks appear to be relatively safe but there are occasional reports in the medical literature of people experiencing psychotic-like hallucinations and they should be used with care if you have low blood pressure – as can occur in ME/CFS. Concerns have also been raised about the spread of waterborne infections if the water is not being changed as regularly as it should.
We don’t currently have very much feedback from people with ME/CFS on the use of floatation tanks but some people do find them helpful


Information provided by The ME Association should not be construed as medical advice. Don't assume any new or worsened symptoms are simply the result of having ME/CFS or Long Covid. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your NHS GP as soon as possible. It is important that you seek personalised medical advice from the GP who is in charge of your care and who knows you well.

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