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Activity not out of the question for people with chronic pain

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Many people with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions fear that activity will make their pain worse. But new research suggests they may be able to be more active than they think without suffering from increased pain.

The study by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., found that fibromyalgia patients have similar average activity levels as people without those conditions. But it also found that their levels of high-intensity "peak" activities such as bolting up the staircase, walking for several miles or taking an aerobics class are much lower than among people without the condition.

The first-of-its-kind research which involved round-the-clock activity monitoring and analysis rather than relying on patients self-reporting their activity levels is helping researchers unlock some of the mysteries of fibromyalgia. The findings could lead to changes in the treatment of patients with the chronic condition of pain in the muscles and soft tissue, says Dan Clauw, M.D., director of the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center and professor of rheumatology at the U-M Medical School.

"When you ask people with fibromyalgia about their level of function in terms of activity levels, they'll report a lower function than almost any other group," says Clauw, senior author of the study, which appears in the current issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism. "The surprising thing that we found was that their average level of activity was about the same as someone who didn't have fibromyalgia."

But researchers found that patients in the study with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or both spent significantly less time in high-level activities compared to those without the conditions, the study reports.

The findings suggest that people with fibromyalgia self-report poor physical function and increased pain after acti
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Contact: Katie Gazella
kgazella@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
25-Jan-2005


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