Background: Although exercise is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia, the relationships between lifestyle physical activity and multiple symptomology domains of fibromyalgia are not clear. Thus, the purpose of this study was to comprehensively examine the relationships between lifestyle physical activity with multiple outcome domains in women with fibromyalgia, including pain, fatigue, function, pain-related psychological constructs, and quality of life.
Methods: Women (N = 171), aged 20 to 70 years, diagnosed with fibromyalgia, recruited from an ongoing two-site clinical trial were included in this prespecified subgroup analysis of baseline data. Physical activity was assessed using self-report and accelerometry. Symptomology was assessed using questionnaires of perceived physical function, quality of life, fatigue, pain intensity and interference, disease impact, pain catastrophizing, and fear of movement. In addition, quantitative sensory testing of pain sensitivity and performance-based physical function were assessed. Correlation coefficients, regression analyses and between-group differences in symptomology by activity level were assessed, controlling for age and body mass index (BMI).
Results: Lifestyle physical activity was most closely associated with select measures of physical function and fatigue, regardless of age and BMI. Those who performed the lowest levels of lifestyle physical activity had poorer functional outcomes and greater fatigue than those with higher physical activity participation. No relationships between lifestyle physical activity and pain, pain sensitivity, or pain-related psychological constructs were observed.
Conclusions: Lifestyle physical activity is not equally related to all aspects of fibromyalgia symptomology. Lifestyle physical activity levels have the strongest correlations with function, physical quality of life, and movement fatigue in women with fibromyalgia. No relationships between lifestyle physical activity and pain, pain sensitivity, or psychological constructs were observed. These data suggest that physical activity levels are more likely to affect function and fatigue, but have negligible relationships with pain and pain-related psychological constructs, in women with fibromyalgia.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01888640 . Registered on 28 June 2013.
Keywords: Accelerometry; ActiGraph; Fatigue; Fibromyalgia; Function; IPAQ; PROMIS; Pain.