Exercise Levels May Affect Adolescents with Fibromyalgia

September 16, 2010

Being physically active can help adolescent fibromyalgia patients report lower levels of pain and disability according to the results of a study published in The Journal of Pain.

Being physically active can help adolescent fibromyalgia patients report lower levels of pain and disability, according to the results of a study published in The Journal of Pain.

The study was led by researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The team used actigraphy-based physical activity monitoring to measure the relationship of pain, perceived functional impairment and depressive symptoms in adolescents with juvenile primary fibromyalgia syndrome (JPFS).

The study included 104 adolescents, ages 11-18. The subjects were fitted with hip-mounted actigraphs for one week. The device measures the amount and intensity of human physical activity.

The results demonstrated that adolescents with JPFS did not engage in physical activities and aerobic exercise at levels recommended by their physicians. Only 23% of the subjects participated in 30 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise. Only one adolescent engaged in 60 minutes of exercise daily.

The study also revealed that higher pain intensity ratings were not significantly associated with lower levels of activity in the group. The authors noted that fatigue and impaired sleep may have affected the activity levels. Higher pain levels in the least active group may have been related to their decreased activity as well, the researchers said.

The inactive group had higher levels of depressive symptoms and functional disability, according to the parent reports. The small number of JPFS patients that maintained very high levels of physical exercise reported pain levels that were lower than the inactive group, which may have correlated with exercising. The parents of these adolescents also reported that they had lower depressive symptoms and disability.