Pain & fatigue induced by exercise in fibromyalgia (FM) patients & sedentary healthy subjects

OBJECTIVE. To examine whether general feelings of fatigue,
exercise-induced pain in the extremities, and exertion were
different in female patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FS)
compared with sedentary healthy women.

METHODS. Thirty-seven
FS patients and 20 healthy subjects were studied.
Cardiovascular fitness was assessed by Aastrand's indirect,
submaximal method. The period of repetitive dynamic muscle
contractions and sustained static muscle contraction were
measured. General feelings of fatigue before exercise and
exercise-induced extremity pain were assessed by visual
analogue scales. Exercise-induced exertion was recorded by
Borg's Rating Scale of Perceived Exertion.

significant group difference in cardiovascular fitness was
found (p = 0.8). In the FS patients general fatigue was
(median 95% confidence interval) 69 (59 – 75) versus 32 (22 –
47) for the healthy controls (p < 0.0001). At the moment of
interrupting the bicycle test, the perceived exertion score
was 17 (16 – 18) among patients versus 13 (13 – 15) among
controls (p < 0.0001). Compared with the controls, high
exercise-induced extremity pain was found after sustained
static and repetitive dynamic muscle contractions in the FS
patients (p < 0.004), and 24 hours later the patients' pain
intensities had not returned to pre-exercise values (p <

CONCLUSION. High general fatigue, exercise-induced
extremity pain, exertion and 24 hours post-exercise extremity
pain in FS patients compared with healthy controls could not
be explained by any group difference in cardiovascular

Mengshoel AM, Vollestad NK, Forre O

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