Program of exercise and education improves function and symptoms in women with fibromyalgia

November 12, 2007

An exercise program that incorporates walking, strength training and stretching may improve daily function and alleviate symptoms in women with fibromyalgia, according to a report in the November 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. These benefits appear to be enhanced when exercise is combined with education about managing the disease.

Fibromyalgia affects approximately 3.4 percent of women and 0.5 percent of men in the United States, according to background information in the article. Patients with fibromyalgia experience chronic pain throughout their bodies for at least three months, along with specific sites of tenderness. Causes and mechanisms are poorly understood. "Even with the recent approval of pregabalin by the Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia symptoms, pharmacotherapy is often insufficient to resolve persistent symptoms or improve functional limitations and quality of life," the authors write.

Daniel S. Rooks, Sc.D., from Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and now with Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Inc., Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues recruited 207 women taking medication for fibromyalgia between 2002 and 2004. For 16 weeks, the women were randomly assigned to four groups: 51 performed aerobic and flexibility exercises only; 51 added in strength training; 50 received a self-help course on managing fibromyalgia; and 55 participated in all the exercises and the education course. The exercise groups met twice weekly, gradually increasing the length and intensity of their workouts, with instructions to perform a third day of exercise on their own.

A total of 135 women completed the study and underwent a six-month follow-up assessment. As measured by two self-assessment questionnaires and one performance test, women who participated in all forms of exercise improved their physical function, an effect that was larger in the combined education and exercise group. "Social function, mental health, fatigue, depression and self-efficacy also improved," the authors write. "The beneficial effect on physical function of exercise alone and in combination with education persisted at six months."

"The present study suggests that progressive walking, simple strength training movements and stretching activities are effective at improving physical, emotional and social function, key symptoms and self-efficacy in women with fibromyalgia who are being actively treated with medication," the authors write. "Furthermore, the benefits of exercise are enhanced when combined with targeted self-management education, and improvements in physical function continue for six months after completion of the intervention. Our findings suggest the need for inclusion of appropriate exercise and patient education in the treatment of individuals with fibromyalgia."
-end-
(Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(20):2192-2200. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor's Note: This research was supported by an Arthritis Foundation Investigator Award (Dr. Rooks) and National Institutes of Health grants. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Fibromyalgia Articles from Brightsurf:

Nerve stimulation may benefit women with fibromyalgia
Published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, a treatment involving electrical nerve stimulation helped women with fibromyalgia in a recent clinical trial.

Gut bacteria associated with chronic pain for first time
In a paper published today in the journal Pain, a Montreal-based research team has shown, for the first time, that there are alterations in the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tracts of people with fibromyalgia.

Does insulin resistance cause fibromyalgia?
Researchers led by a team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston were able to dramatically reduce the pain of fibromyalgia patients with medication that targeted insulin resistance.

Experimental blood test accurately spots fibromyalgia
For the first time, researchers have evidence that fibromyalgia can be reliably detected in blood samples -- work they hope will pave the way for a simple, fast diagnosis.

Are most patients with fibromyalgia misdiagnosed?
Recent studies have suggested that most people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia by physicians may not actually have the condition.

Study links adult fibromyalgia to childhood sexual abuse
A new Tel Aviv University study finds that fibromyalgia syndrome -- a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain, fatigue and cognitive difficulties -- may be a consequence of post-traumatic physical and psychological distress associated with childhood sexual abuse.

Patients with facial pain report most benefit from self-care techniques
While oral appliances such as splints and bite guards are the most common treatment for facial pain from temporomandibular disorders (TMD), patients rate them as less helpful than self-care treatments, such as jaw exercises or warm compresses, finds a new study by researchers at NYU College of Dentistry.

Painful intercourse in women improved with fibromyalgia drug
Women with chronic pain or discomfort around the vulva showed improved sexual function with an oral nerve pain medication used to treat pain caused by a previous herpes infection as well as fibromyalgia, according to a Rutgers study.

Extract from soursop leaves can prevent the symptoms of fibromyalgia
The consumption of extract of Annona muricata L. leaves in pharmaceutical form and in the correct dosage can reduce the chronic pain, anxiety and depression that accompany this disease.

Insomnia therapy may slow or reverse cortical gray matter atrophy in fibromyalgia
Preliminary findings from a pilot study suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) may slow or even reverse the atrophy of cortical gray matter in patients who have co-morbid fibromyalgia.

Read More: Fibromyalgia News and Fibromyalgia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.