Effect of Resistance Exercises on Function and Pain in Fibromyalgia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2024 Apr 1;103(4):275-283. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000002318. Epub 2023 Jul 31.


Objective: This review aimed to compare the effectiveness of resistance exercise with that of other exercises in functional improvement and pain control in patients with fibromyalgia.

Design: PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and Cochrane databases were searched for studies published from their inception until March 2023. The following medical search heading terms were used: "resistance OR strength OR strengthening" AND "fibromyalgia." The analysis was performed using the statistical package Review Manager, version 5.4.1.

Results: This study reviewed 11 randomized controlled trials involving 530 patients. In comparison with no intervention, resistance exercise reduced the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire total score, pain score, tender points, and depression and improved physical function. Compared with flexibility exercise, resistance exercise reduced the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire total score. Compared with aerobic exercise, resistance exercise shows similar effects on pain control, reduction of tender points, and improvement of physical function.

Conclusions: Compared with other exercises, resistance exercise demonstrated a more favorable effect on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire total score, and the effects on pain control, tender points, physical function, and depression were comparable. Thus, resistance exercise exhibits comparable or superior effects when compared with other interventions and more precise research is needed to confirm this conclusion.

To claim cme credits: Complete the self-assessment activity and evaluation online at http://www.physiatry.org/JournalCME.

Cme objectives: Upon completion of this article, the reader should be able to: (1) Appraise the effectiveness and role of resistance exercise as a treatment option for patients with fibromyalgia; (2) Differentiate the comparative effectiveness of resistance exercise in relation to other forms of exercise for patients with fibromyalgia; and (3) Identify demographic factors commonly associated with fibromyalgia.

Level: Advanced.

Accreditation: The Association of Academic Physiatrists is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.The Association of Academic Physiatrists designates this Journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) ™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Fibromyalgia* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Pain
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Resistance Training*