Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes widespread pain. It is actually a form of “muscular rheumatism”, also commonly known as “soft tissue rheumatism”. [Rheumatism is aches and pains, from 3 structures-the joints (as in arthritis), the bones (as in osteoporosis), or the muscle and soft tissue, i.e. the ligaments and tendons as in fibromyalgia).
People with FMS often have pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. The pain is usually felt in specific parts of their body, areas known as pressure points. Common pressure points are the front of the knees, the elbows, the hip joints and around the neck. When a fibromyalgia patient presses on these pressure points, they will feel pain or slight discomfort.
Some sufferers also report concentration and memory problems. Fibromyalgia may also create many other symptoms that feed on each other for example; the jerking of limbs causes a lack of sleep that causes more pain. Fibromyalgia rarely affects men. Approximately 90% of all sufferers are females. According to western data, FMS, which has no specific ethnic predisposition, afflicts females much more than males in an approximate ratio of 20:1.FMS is seen in all age groups from young children through older adults, although for most patients the systems begin in their 20s or 30s.
Studies show that:
1. SCIENTISTS working with the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group found and analyzed 16 studies that tested over 700 people who had FMS, with most the people women and between the ages of 31 and 55.Among the findings are: Aerobic exercise e.g.: cycling, aerobic dance, whole body aerobics or walking for at least 20 minutes a day, twice a week for 6 weeks improved aerobics (cardiovascular) fitness, tenderness and the intensity of pain in people with FMSJ. Some studies showed that people slept better, were less tired, had an overall sense of well-being, or thought they moved around better or could perform tasks. Exercises to improve muscle strength, such as squats, knee and trunk extensions and bench presses improved pain, strength and reach, and psychological well-being in one study.
2. IN large-patient population studies, about 20% of fibromyalgia patients see a decrease in their major symptoms when they exercise, and 37% specifically feel less pain. Exercise, in these studies, was defined as any activity which increased the heart rate by 40 / 85%; a frequency of at least 3 times a week; duration of at least 20 minutes; and a term of at least 6 weeks.
3. IN a Norwegian study, 33 women with fibromyalgia who had taken part in exercise and patient education programmes back in early 90s, were interviewed 6-8 years after the programme’s completion, and evaluated on a variety of measures including fibromyalgia symptoms, daily activities, and ability to cope with everyday life.
The finding: All of the 33 still reported widespread pain and 79% still had enough tender points to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. However, when compared to their conditions 6-8 years earlier, the women who had participated in the programme had fewer tender points and reported significantly less pain and fatigue.
4. IN study, 68 women with fibromyalgia were randomly assigned to a week, twice-weekly exercise programme consisting of either strength training or stretching. The subjects involved in strength training experienced “an improvement in overall disease activity”, which was greater than the improvements reported by those involved in stretching. A year later, the people in the stretching group had pain just like before, but the people in the strengthening group had some protective effect from their exercise.