How Exercise Reduces Sensitivity to Pain in Fibromyalgia Patients

If you don’t experience chronic pain, it’s tough to imagine the daily struggles associated with painful conditions.


For those that suffer from fibromyalgia, they often experience immense fatigue and musculoskeletal pain, interfering with their daily life. It feels as though the pain experienced has no boundaries — it’s hard to find relief.


At this point in time, researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes fibromyalgia, however, infection, physical trauma, and stress can often trigger symptoms. Also, the fact that approximately 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients are female, suggests that hormones may play a key role.


If you or a loved one currently suffer from this condition, you’re probably only thinking one thing — how do you find relief?


Although the answer may seem obvious, more and more research continues to pile, highlighting the key benefits of exercise and its ability to reduce pain sensitivity.


How Exercise Can Improve Symptoms of Fibromyalgia


It may seem strange that exercise and painful muscles are positively associated with one another, yet throughout the literature, a number of studies confirm that regular, low-intensity exercise is one of the most effective ways to target fibromyalgia pain. What may start off as increased soreness, can quickly lead to relief.


Not only can regular exercise reduce one’s sensitivity to pain, but it can also improve sleep quality, strength, and balance. Although the exact cause of fibromyalgia is not fully understood, some believe that changes occur in terms of brain chemicals — mainly serotonin. Not only will exercise increase levels of serotonin, but also endorphins — your body’s natural pain killers.


Most patients with fibromyalgia demonstrate impaired physical performance and functional ability, yet it’s been reported that approximately 2 percent of competitive athletes have this condition, proving that you can be very active when aiming to manage symptoms.


An aerobic fitness program has been shown to improve slow-wave sleep, increasing the release of beneficial endorphins. As a result, symptoms of depression improve, stress levels are reduced, and individuals often experience a reduction in pain. Although exercise within a treatment plan is nothing new, most individuals exercise for a couple of weeks, thinking that they’re aggravating their pain.


Researchers aim to lift this fear, aiding those who aim to find relief — helping patients see that regular exercise will not only improve their overall health and reduce problematic symptoms, but that pain will not worsen due to physical activity. Within one study, this relationship was closely examined.


Researchers enrolled 170 volunteers who were examined over the course of 36 weeks. Those who engaged in moderate intensity exercise for a minimum of 12 weeks, showed greater positive improvements in comparison to those who did not achieve enhanced levels of physical activity. More importantly, long-term physical activity was not associated with worsening pain-related symptoms.


It’s also believed that exercise stimulates brain regions involved in pain inhibition, essentially decreasing pain sensitivity. Since there are so many types of exercise, are all considered to be equal in terms of their effectiveness? Which exercises have been found to specifically target pain-related symptoms?


Best Exercises When Suffering From Fibromyalgia


When in pain, you may not feel like exercising, however, inactivity will foster fatigue, leading to deconditioning. In turn, muscle pain worsens and individual’s become more susceptible to muscle trauma. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:


  • Stick to low-impact aerobic exercise problems, including walking, cycling, or swimming. These all reduce axial loading — minimising the risk of joint and muscle trauma.


  • Although strength training is beneficial to one’s health, weight lifting should be avoided, especially early on.


  • Performing exercise in therapeutic pools (30 degrees or higher) can be beneficial.


  • Before you exercise, always perform a ten-minute warm up and then a ten-minute cool down — gentle stretching is important to prevent injury.


  • When first starting an exercise program, you may be deconditioned. Do not get discouraged if you experience pain and stiffness at first. The goal is to continue and maintain a regular exercise program to achieve beneficial results.


  • In terms of frequency, three to four times weekly is recommended — no need to overdo it. At first, you may only be able to tolerate a 3-minute workout, but try and build up to 20-minute sessions.


Over the past 5 years our passionate team at Happy Physio have had the privilege of helping dozens of ladies who were suffering from Fibromyalgia move from pain, fatigue, depressive thoughts to greater health and happiness. You can do it too!


To book an appointment, simply call our friendly front desk team on 94448729 now.