Fibromyalgia sufferers find relief in strength training

Fibromyalgia sufferers find relief in strength training

Two recent studies suggest that strength training, exercise, and other non-pharmaceutical approaches may be helpful in easing the chronic pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia (FM). FM sufferers experience widespread muscle and joint pain that comes and goes, tiredness and depression, and trouble sleeping. Oftentimes the first onset of FM follows a flu-like illness, physical trauma, stress, or chronic sleep problems. Because conventional drug therapies appear to provide only short-term relief, scientists continue to explore other approaches to dealing with FM.

A recent study suggests that strength training may be helpful in coping with depression associated with FM as well as in improving pain. In this study, FM patients engaged in a 17-week strength-training program that included squats, knee and trunk extension/flexion exercises, and bench presses. The women who had followed the strength-training program showed immediate improvements in mood, neck pain, fatigue, and overall daily physical function, compared with the women who did not participate in the strength-training program. These results suggest that strength training may be a beneficial addition to any treatment program for FM.

According to a recent review of research on mind/body approaches to FM (such as relaxation techniques, hypnosis, stress management, biofeedback, and cognitive-behavioral training), these have little or no effect on the actual pain and other symptoms of FM. The researchers did find, however, that mind/body approaches may help people cope with the symptoms of FM, especially when the techniques are used in the early stages of FM. And, when combined with high-intensity exercise, mind/body approaches may aid in reducing pain and improving general physical function.

While there is no single cure for FM, an integrated approach incorporating a range of therapies to address the various symptoms of FM may be the best way of dealing with this difficult condition. It is important that you work with your doctor or healthcare provider to discuss various treatment options and develop an integrated approach that will best meet your needs.


Hadhazy VA, Ezzo J, Creamer P, Berman BM. Mind-body therapies for the treatment of fibromyalgia. A systematic review. J Rheumatol. 2000;27(12):2911-2918.

Hakkinen A, Hakkinen K, Hannonen P, Alen M. Strength training induced adaptations in neuromuscular function of premenopausal women with fibromyalgia: comparison with healthy women. Ann Rheum Dis. 2001;60:21-26.

Review Date: December 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

... Brought to you by