Physical activity protects male patients with post-traumatic stress disorder from developing severe fibromyalgia.

Arnson Y, Amital D, Fostick L, Silberman A, Polliack ML, Zohar J, Rubinow A, Amital H.
Department of Medicine ‘D’, Meir Medical Center, Kfar-Saba, Israel (affiliated with the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University).

OBJECTIVES:Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) has been associated with various psychiatric and other, ill-defined disorders. We recently showed that fibromyalgia is more prevalent in men suffering from combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this paper we analyze the relationship between engagement in physical activity, the psycho-metric traits of PTSD and the future development of FMS.

METHODS:Fifty-five male patients, all known to have combat-related PTSD, were investigated for the presence of fibro-myalgia according to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. Each patient completed questionnaires characterizing his quality of sleep, and the Sheehan Disability Scale measuring performance in the familial, social and vocational spheres. Additionally, each of the enrollees was interviewed by an experienced psychiatrist, who then completed a Clinician Administered PTSD Scale, a Clinical Global Impression Scale, and calculated an SF-36 score. Each patient was asked whether he exercised often, occasionally or not at all. The data was analyzed by the Xi2 test and by ANOVA.

RESULTS:PTSD patients who also suffered from FMS had a more severe form of disease as measured by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) score, 88.2 +/- 14.0 (n = 28) compared to 97.6 +/- 13.2 of patients with PTSD and FMS (n = 27) (p = 0.013, F(d.f 2)-6.61, ANOVA test). Interestingly, engaging in physical exercise was also associated with less severe disease. When the patients were analyzed based on their tender point count (0-5, 6-10, or > 11), the number of tender points decreased with increasing physical activity (p = 0.02, Xi2(d.f.-4) = 11.3).

CONCLUSION:Physical exercise in male patients with combat-related PTSD provides protection from the future development of fibromyalgia. Furthermore, physical activity is related in this group of patients to a better perception of their quality of life.

PMID: 17888207 [PubMed – in process]

1: Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2007 Jul-Aug;25(4):529-33.

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Folllowing Rick Usher's death in December 2008, at his request in September of that year, I had agreed, as his principal contributor and an experienced journalist, to run the FMS Global News service due to his heavy commitments to music and raising research funds through this avenue. Following his sad and sudden death I hope to continue his work as he would have wished.
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