With chronic opioid use being viewed by the American Medical Association as risky and leading to other chronic, potentially life-threatening problems such as opioid addiction, many sufferers of chronic pain are frustrated. So are their physicians. It’s impossible to optimally complete day-to-day tasks such as working, cleaning, parenting, and even simple activities like bathing and dressing while in extreme amounts of all-over-body pain, but many physicians have basically tapered opioid prescriptions in patients with fibromyalgia and are left with not many viable treatment options.
While less than a quarter of people report some relief from the antidepressant Cymbalta and similar medications, these are not without complications and side effects for some people as well, including weight gain, which can add to the joint pain that many with fibromyalgia experience. As the Inquisitr reported last week, a new study found that medicinal usage of marijuana may help up to two-thirds of patients with fibromyalgia pain, but only about one-third of the country has approved medicinal marijuana, and there are still many social stigmas attached to the use of the drug, which was once considered to be predominately recreational and led to other forms of drug usage. While studies have shown this is not accurate, breaking those commonly held views and getting laws passed that allow for medicinal medical marijuana distribution is still a real concern in some states.
Scientists don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, the condition that involves severe muscle pain at various areas around the body, particularly the head, neck, spine, arms, and hips. In fact, since there are no blood tests or imaging that can be done to diagnose fibromyalgia, doctors rely on patient presentation and their tenderness at 22 different points in their bodies, as well as their self-reported pain and inability to perform daily activities.
Previous studies have shown that moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking for 50 minutes three times a week, may help pain in some sufferers, but there are some people with the disorder than cannot walk because they are too fatigued from the syndrome, or because they have other medical issues, such as arthritis, that inhibit them from walking for long or far distances. Scientists, however, found that another form of physical activity may be just as effective for fibromyalgia sufferers: swimming. Swimming is easy on the joints, so those with arthritis and other medical conditions can generally benefit, scientists say, according to UPI. In fact, researchers from a study out of the Federal University of Sau Paulo found that swimming was at least as effective as walking for fibromyalgia sufferers. Dr. Jamil Natour, a professor of rheumatology, says this is great news for the 5 percent of American women thought to suffer from fibromyalgia.
“Physical exercise is an essential component of any treatment for fibromyalgia, and plenty of studies have demonstrated that low-impact aerobic exercise offers the most benefits. However, not everyone likes or is able to do the same kind of physical activity, so our group decided to test alternatives.”
The study’s control group included walkers, who each completed 50 minutes of brisk walking three times a week for 12 weeks, and their experimental group was women who swam at the same intervals for the same amount of time. Women were all diagnosed with fibromyalgia and between 18 and 60 years old. Dr. Natour said the results of the study show promise.
“Swimming has not been evaluated with proper scientific rigor. The results of this trial show that swimming is just as effective as walking for those who suffer from fibromyalgia.”
Some limitations of the study included the fact that patients reported their pain prior to the exercise regimen and afterwards, and that pain is a subjective experience. Before starting the exercise program, both groups reported the severity of their pain as a “6” on a scale of one to 10. After the study, the walking group rated their pain at an average of 3.4, and the swimming group rated their pain even lower, at 3.1.
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