Objective: To determine the efficacy of a 12-week individualized home-based exercise programme on physical functioning, pain severity and psychological distress for women with fibromyalgia (FM).
Methods: Seventy-nine women with a primary diagnosis of FM were randomized to a 12-week individualized home-based moderate-intensity exercise programme or to a usual care control group. Outcomes were functional capacity (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire), pain severity and psychological distress. Outcomes were measured at study entry, at the end of the 12-week intervention, and at 3 and 9 months following completion of the intervention.
Results: On the basis of intention-to-treat analyses, a significant improvement in functional capacity at 3 and 9 months following treatment for participants in the exercise group who were more functionally disabled at study entry was observed. At both 3 and 9 months post-treatment, the mean estimated benefit of the intervention was more than 10 points [-12.3 (95% CI, -21.9 to -2.8); -10.8 (95% CI, -21.5 to -0.2)]. Compared with the control group, statistically significant improvements in upper body pain were evident in the exercise group at post-treatment. These between-group differences in upper body pain were maintained at 3 and 9 months post-treatment. No statistically significant group differences on lower body pain and psychological distress were found.
Conclusions: Home-based exercise, a relatively low-cost treatment modality, has the potential to improve important health outcomes in FM.