Can Resistance Training Help Ease Fibromyalgia Symptoms?

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If you suffer from fibromyalgia (FM), you know the challenges of trying to find a treatment that really works. A big part of the problem is that the underlying causes of the condition are largely unknown, so treatments are geared to managing pain, without hope of getting to the source.

One approach that has had positive results for FM sufferers is resistance training. For many, the idea may seem counterintuitive, since the natural impulse is to protect painful tissue. Yet research points to positive outcomes when resistance training is included as part of an FM treatment program.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that currently has no cure. Many experts suspect that the underlying cause is neurological in nature, and associated with abnormal pain responses in the central nervous system.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

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Diagnosis is based on a clinical exam that relies heavily on patient-reported symptoms.

Exercise and FM Symptom Relief

Physical exercise is often prescribed as a treatment approach for FM, but there is often no consensus among practitioners about which type of exercise is most beneficial. Many patients opt for water exercise because it seems like the least painful alternative. However, a growing body of evidence points to strength training as the most effective activity for alleviating FM symptoms.

A recent review of 22 studies that treated adult FM patients with resistance training found strength training to be effective in reducing pain, fatigue, tender points, depression, and anxiety. Patients also demonstrated greater functional capacity and improved quality of life.

It is worth mentioning that FM patients are often less strong and have lower functional capacity than their healthy peers, possibly due to pain and fatigue that causes them to avoid physical activity. However, researchers found that FM patients had responses to strength training similar to healthy subjects in terms of strength and muscle gain.

How Much, How Often?

There is currently no specific exercise prescription for strength training for FM patients. However, In the above-mentioned review, most studies followed adult exercise guidelines provided by the American College of Sports Medicine.

ACSM guidelines recommend:

  • Resistance exercise performed at least two non-consecutive days per week
  • Perform one set of 8-12 repetitions
  • Do a total of 8-10 exercises to target various muscle groups
  • Resistance can be provided by body weight, resistance bands, free weights, medicine balls or weight machines
  • Use enough resistance to challenge your muscles

Fibromyalgia Symptom Relief in NYC

If you are tired of taking medications and undergoing treatments that do little to alleviate your FM symptoms, it may be time for a new approach. At NYDNR, we leverage the latest technologies and most innovative treatments to get to the source of your symptoms, with the goal of restoring function and improving overall quality of life. Contact us today, and get back to doing the things you love, pain-free.

130 West 42 Street Suite 1055, New York NY 10036
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In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)

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Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)

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Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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