Session Type: ACR Poster Session C
Session Time: 9:00AM-11:00AM
Background/Purpose: It has been reported that aerobic exercise may be beneficial for fibromyalgia patients. Stamina and energy, sense of well-being, and increased mental relaxation can be achieved with an exercise program. We asked fibromyalgia patients whether exercise had a beneficial effect on their illness.
Methods: An office questionnaire was given to rheumatic disease patients in a rheumatology office practice. The patients were asked about the effect of aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening exercise, stretching, and yoga and whether they made their symptoms better or worse and whether it affected their level of pain.
The patients were divided into Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) patients and non-FMS rheumatic disease controls.
Results: 78 FMS patients and 167 non-FMS rheumatic disease pts were compared. The mean number of days which 78 Fibromyalgia Syndrome patients reported exercising was 3.4, compared to 3.6 days for non-FMS rheumatic disease controls (n/s). The time devoted by FMS patients per exercise session was 32.6 min, compared to 44.7 min for controls (P <.001)
Using a 0-10 visual analogue scale with 10 being the worst score (makes pain much worse), fibromyalgia patients reported a mean of 7.0 for aerobic exercise, where controls reported a mean of 4.3 (P <.001). The mean for muscle strengthening for FMS was 5.4, and controls 4.2 (P<.001). Stretching exercises, mean for FMS patients was 4.1, compared to 3.1 for non-FMS patients (P<.001). Yoga exercises seemed to be preferred among fibromyalgia patients, the mean was 4.0, controls 3.5 (n/s).
Fibromyalgia patients exercise approximately the same number of days as non-FMS rheumatic disease patients. Aerobic and also muscle strengthening and stretching exercises were found to make FMS patients’ symptoms worse. There was no significant difference between groups for yoga.
Conclusion: Assuming one objective is to get FMS patients to do aerobic exercise on a regular basis, the exercises would need to be modified in a way that patients are able to perform them without a significant increase in symptoms.
We initiated a program in which patients are asked to do 10 minutes of aerobic exercise (huffing and puffing) daily on a stationary bike. Preliminary anecdotal observations suggest that patients exercising daily on the stationary bike, appear to be doing better.
If the studies are correct that regular aerobic exercise may benefit fibromyalgia, the fact that these patients tend to feel worse is an obstacle. It is interesting that yoga, a relaxation technique, was more helpful than other forms of exercise evaluated.
Whether achievable aerobic exercise, such as 10 minutes on a stationary bike daily, or a focus on relaxing activities such as yoga will have a greater positive effect on the symptoms of fibromyalgia, is unclear, but more research needs to be done to help fibromyalgia patients overcome the levels of fatigue and pain and poor general function in order to try regular, brief exercise.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Katz RS, Polyak JL, Leavitt F. Exercise in Fibromyalgia Patients [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2017; 69 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/exercise-in-fibromyalgia-patients/. Accessed July 13, 2020.
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