Fibromyalgia or fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is characterized by widespread and unexplained pain in muscles, tendons and joints, which affects the ability to perform routine activities. As per reports from the National Fibromyalgia Association, about 10 million people in the United States are affected by FMS. Though this chronic pain condition affects both men and women, about 9 in every 10 cases reported are women. Fibromyalgia pain management in leading multi-specialty healthcare centers in Brooklyn, NYC involves the use of a variety of modalities to treat the widespread pain, fatigue and other symptoms associated with the condition. Fibromyalgia and resistance exercises have typically been considered as an impossible combination. However, a new study suggests that using a combination of proper support and individually adjusted exercises may help female patients achieve considerable health improvements. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
According to Annette Larsson, (an active physical therapist at Närhälsan in Herrljunga) women with FMS need to exercise the right way in order to improve strength. It has long been considered that FMS patients will experience more pain if they do resistance exercises. However, the researchers found that this is not the case with an individualized program.
As part of the study, researchers studied 130 women (aged between 20-65 years) who were divided into two different groups. The first group underwent person-centered (individualized) progressive strength exercises led by a physical therapist. The second group of women (the control group) underwent a more traditional therapy program with relaxation exercises. The training and exercises were performed twice a week and lasted for 15 weeks.
The group who practiced resistance exercises began with very light weights (which were determined individually for each participant based on their level of strength). The resistance exercises began at 40 percent of the maximum and then continued that level for 3 to 4 weeks before increasing to 60 percent, making it more difficult, but still manageable. The study results are as follows –
- Women with the personally-designed strength program gained muscle strength and had less pain, better pain tolerance, better health-related quality of life and less limitation of activities.
- More than 6 of 10 women were able to reach a level of exercise at 80 percent of their maximum strength. On the other hand, 1 out of 10 was at 60 percent, while others were below that figure. In addition, five participants chose to stop training due to increased pain. On the whole, the group had about 71 percent attendance at the exercise sessions.
- In the control group, (practicing the traditional therapy program), the improvements were not as significant, but there were significant improvements in hand and arm strength. The relaxation exercises led to decreased muscle tension in the arms and shoulders, which in turn, allowed the participants to develop more strength.
The findings of the study indicate that women with fibromyalgia need not be concerned about physical exercises for fear of causing themselves more pain. However, to get the most out of the exercise and managing the potential side effects, seeking an exercise program by someone trained in this area of service like a physical therapist is highly recommended. Such treatment is available in reliable multi-specialty healthcare centers, where a team of pain management doctors assess patients thoroughly and provide appropriate treatment using nonsurgical modalities such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, and more.