Effectiveness of physical activity in reducing pain in patients with fibromyalgia: a blinded randomized clinical trial

Rheumatol Int. 2012 Aug;32(8):2285-92. doi: 10.1007/s00296-011-1958-z. Epub 2011 May 19.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of muscle-strengthening exercises (MS) and a walking program (WA) in reducing pain in patients with fibromyalgia. Ninety women, 30-55 years of age, diagnosed with fibromyalgia according to the American College of Rheumatology 1990 criteria, were randomized into 3 groups: WA Group, MS Group, and control group. Pain (visual analog scale) was evaluated as the primary outcome. Physical functioning (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, FIQ), health-related quality of life (Short-Form 36 Health Survey, SF-36), and use of medication were evaluated as secondary outcomes. Assessments were performed at baseline, 8, 16, and 28 weeks. Intention-to-treat and efficacy analyses were conducted. Sixty-eight patients completed the treatment protocol. All 3 groups showed improvement after the 16-week treatment compared to baseline. At the 28-week follow-up, pain reduction was similar for the WA and MS groups (P = 0.39), but different from the control group (P = 0.01). At the end of the treatment, 80% of subjects in the control group took pain medication, but only 46.7% in the WA and 41.4% in the MS groups. Mean FIQ total scores were lower for the WA and MS groups (P = 0.96) compared with the control group (P < 0.01). Patients in the WA and MS groups reported higher scores (better health status) than controls in almost all SF-36 subscales. MS was as effective as WA in reducing pain regarding all study variables; however, symptoms management during the follow-up period was more efficient in the WA group.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00498264.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brazil
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / complications
  • Fibromyalgia / diagnosis
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Examination
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Quality of Life
  • Resistance Training*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking*


  • Analgesics

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00498264