An exercise program in the treatment of fibromyalgia (FM)

OBJECTIVE: To assess the utility of an exercise program, which
included aerobic, flexibility and strengthening elements, in
the treatment of fibromyalgia (FM). FM is a chronic
musculoskeletal condition characterized by diffuse
musculoskeletal pain and aching. It has been suggested that
aerobic exercise is helpful in its treatment.

METHODS: We
studied 60 patients who met American College of Rheumatology
criteria for FM and had no significant comorbidities.
Measurements performed on each patient at the pre and
poststudy assessment included the number of tender points
(TP), total myalgic scores (TM), aerobic fitness (AF),
flexibility and isokinetic strength. After initial evaluation
patients were randomly assigned to either an exercise or a
relaxation group. Each group met 3 times per week for 6 weeks
for 1 h of supervised exercise or relaxation. All patients
data were stored in a computerized database and statistical
analysis was performed on all pre and poststudy assessments.

Martin L, Nutting A, MacIntosh BR, Edworthy SM, Butterwick D, Cook J

RESULTS: Thirty-eight patients (18 exercise and 20
relaxation) completed the study. Analysis of our data showed
no significant difference between the groups in their
prestudy assessment. Poststudy assessments, however, showed a
significant improvement between the exercise and relaxation
groups in TP (p < 0.05), TM (p < 0.05), and AF (p < 0.05).
Similar improvements were also found when the pre and
poststudy assessment of the exercise group were compared.

CONCLUSION: Exercise is helpful in the management of FM in
the short term. It also shows that FM patients can undertake
an exercise program which includes aerobic, flexibility, and
strength training exercises without adverse effects. The long
term utility of this type of exercise requires further
evaluation.

MCM: Of 38 pts w FM studied over 6 weeks, the 18 treated with
exercise (1 hour 3x/week) improved significantly more than the
20 treated with relaxation techniques (1 hour 3x/week).

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