Study Finds Altered Utilization of Muscle Oxygen in Fibromyalgia Population


Noninvasive optical characterization of muscle blood flow, oxygenation, and metabolism in women with fibromyalgia. Source: Arthritis Research & Therapy, Nov. 1, 2012

By Y. Shang, et al.


Objective: Women with fibromyalgia (FM) have symptoms of increased muscular fatigue and reduced exercise tolerance, which may be associated with alterations in muscle microcirculation and oxygen metabolism. This study used near-infrared diffuse optical spectroscopies to noninvasively evaluate muscle blood flow, blood oxygenation and oxygen metabolism during leg fatiguing exercise and during arm arterial cuff occlusion in post-menopausal women with and without FM.

Design: Fourteen women with FM and twenty-three well-matched healthy controls participated in this study. For the fatiguing exercise protocol, the subject was instructed to perform 6 sets of 12 isometric contractions of knee extensor muscles with intensity steadily increasing from 20 to 70% maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC). For the cuff occlusion protocol, forearm arterial blood flow was occluded via a tourniquet on the upper arm for 3 minutes. Leg or arm muscle hemodynamics, including relative blood flow (rBF), oxy- and deoxy-hemoglobin concentration ([HbO2] and [Hb]), total hemoglobin concentration (THC) and blood oxygen saturation (StO2), were continuously monitored throughout protocols using a custom-built hybrid diffuse optical instrument that combined a commercial near-infrared oximeter for tissue oxygenation measurements and a custom-designed diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) flowmeter for tissue blood flow measurements. Relative oxygen extraction fraction (rOEF) and oxygen consumption rate (rV.O2) were calculated from the measured blood flow and oxygenation data. Post-manipulation (fatiguing exercise or cuff occlusion) recovery in muscle hemodynamics was characterized by the recovery half-time, a time interval from the end of manipulation to the time that tissue hemodynamics reached a half-maximal value.


  • Subjects with FM had similar hemodynamic and metabolic response/recovery patterns as healthy controls during exercise and during arterial occlusion.

  • However, tissue rOEF during exercise in subjects with FM was significantly lower than in healthy controls,

  • and the half-times of oxygenation recovery (Delta[HbO2] and Delta[Hb]) were significantly longer following fatiguing exercise and cuff occlusion.


Our results suggest an alteration of muscle oxygen utilization in the FM population.

This study demonstrates the potential of using combined diffuse optical spectroscopies (i.e., NIRS/DCS) to comprehensively evaluate tissue oxygen and flow kinetics in skeletal muscle.

Source: Arthritis Research & Therapy. 2012 Nov 1;14(6):R236. [Epub ahead of print] by Shang Y, Gurley K, Symons B, Long D, Srikuea R, Crofford LJ, Peterson CA, Yu G.

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