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Physical effort does not automatically lead to worsening of fibromyalgia symptoms

New Orleans, LA -- Fibromyalgia (FM) is a syndrome characterised by chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain, with maladaptive responses to food and the environment. The underlying cause is still unknown for this disorder that affects approximately four million Americans.

Recent research has examined the altered function of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) as part of the cause for this disorder. However, conflicting opinions of the SNS role exists because studies have found SNS hyperactivity and reduced activity in these patients. What is consistent in these studies is that the SNS responses of subjects with fibromyalgia undertaken during exercise indicated a blunted response.

It is known that healthy subjects, exercise induces activation of muscle sympathetic nervous activity, as well as more general SNS activity, especially when the exercise exceeds a certain level or duration. The SNS activity during exercise is important for performance of exercise and also closely related to the regulation of muscle blood flow and metabolic processes during exercise.

To find out if the same postulate applies to FM patients, a Norwegian research group aimed to determine whether the metabolic responses (including catecholamine, an organic compound affecting the sympathetic nervous system) induced by bicycle exercise, differed between the FM patients and controls matched for self-reported fitness-level, age and smoking. The second objective of her research was to assess whether the maximal oxygen uptake, being an objective measure of fitness, differed between matched groups.

The principle investigator of "Metabolic And Hormonal Responses During Dynamic Exercise in Female Fibromyalgia Patients and Matched Healthy Controls is Nina K. Vllestad, Professor, Section for Health Science, University of Oslo, Norway. She will present her findings in detail during the American Physiological Society (APS) annual meeting, which is being held as part
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Contact: Donna Krupa
703-967-2751
American Physiological Society
22-Apr-2002


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