Prescribed exercise in people with fibromyalgia: parallel group enterzed controlled trial

Richards SC, Scott DL.

Poole Hospital NHS Trust, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate cardiovascular fitness exercise in people with fibromyalgia. DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial. Setting: Hospital rheumatology outpatients. Group based classes took place at a “healthy living enter.” PARTICIPANTS: 132 patients with fibromyalgia. INTERVENTIONS: Prescribed graded aerobic exercise (active treatment) and relaxation and flexibility (control treatment). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Participants’ self assessment of improvement, tender point count, impact of condition measured by fibromyalgia impact questionnaire, and short form McGill pain questionnaire. RESULTS: Compared with relaxation exercise led to significantly more participants rating themselves as much or very much better at three months: 24/69 (35%) v 12/67 (18%), P=0.03. Benefits were maintained or improved at one year follow up when fewer participants in the exercise group fulfilled the criteria for fibromyalgia (31/69 v 44/67, P=0.01). People in the exercise group also had greater reductions in tender point counts (4.2 v 2.0, P=0.02) and in scores on the fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (4.0 v 0.6, P=0.07). CONCLUSIONS: Prescribed graded aerobic exercise is a simple, cheap, effective, and potentially widely available treatment for fibromyalgia.

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