Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate the long-term efficacy of a 3-week intensive residential multidisciplinary non-pharmacological treatment program (including individually prescribed and monitored aerobic exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy) on fibromyalgia symptoms and aerobic fitness.
Twenty-five women with fibromyalgia participated in six experimental sessions (pre-admission, immediately before, and immediately after the treatment, and to 2, 5 and 12 months afterwards) in which they underwent clinical, psychophysical and psychological examinations:
• Pain intensity (VAS),
• Pain area (percentage of total body surface),
• Deep pressure pain threshold at 18 tender point sites measured with a pressure algometer,
• An incremental step test with blood lactate determination and calculation of the individual intensity of exercise corresponding to 2 mM of lactate concentration (W2, index of aerobic fitness).
• Depression and coping were evaluated with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and Brief Pain Coping Inventory (BPCI), respectively.
• Pain intensity, pain area, and number of positive tender points were significantly reduced up to 12 months,
• While deep pressure pain threshold and W2 increased. CES-D score decreased until two months.
• Among the 18 items of the BCPI, only item 3 ("physical
exercise/stretching") changed significantly, increasing until 12 months.
Conclusion: In fibromyalgia patients, whose symptoms before treatment were constant, a 3-week intensive residential multidisciplinary treatment program showed one-year efficacy in improving pain and aerobic fitness.
The acquisition of physical exercise as a coping strategy for chronic pain acceptance could explain the long-term effects of our brief treatment.
Source: Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, Jan-Feb 2009;27(1):7-14. PMID: 19327223, by Suman AL, Biagi B, Biasi G, Carli G, Gradi M, Prati E, Bonifazi M. Department of Physiology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.