Studies Suggest That Exercise Is the Key to Understanding Fibromyalgia
Exercise studies on fibromyalgia (FM) have grown increasingly common in recent years. Today, many perceive exercise as the foundation of fibromyalgia treatment. While there is no dispute that fibromyalgia can be improved with consistent, moderate exercise, numerous studies still point to other issues—not just in fibromyalgia, but in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and long COVID.
Keep reading to learn more about recent health findings in fibromyalgia and related conditions.
Exercise Studies Reveal Similarities in Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, & Long COVID
While varying techniques have been used to examine these chronic conditions, including cardiopulmonary exercise tests and muscle function tests, studies suggest problems with exercise and energy production. One of these issues involves impaired mitochondria. Research has revealed various potential findings related to the role of mitochondria in fibromyalgia, including:
- Low CoQ10 levels
- Impaired autophagy
- Carnitine deficiencies
- Peroxisomal problems
- Reduced AMPK activation
- Possible genetic impairment
- Decreased muscle ATP problems
New Study Suggests “Significant Impairment” in Consumption of Muscle Oxygen in Fibromyalgia Patients
A recent study in Spain revealed findings that supported poorly functioning mitochondria in patients with fibromyalgia. Unlike the bodies of healthy controls—whose oxygen saturation, oxygenated hemoglobin, and deoxygenated hemoglobin levels fluctuated in accordance with the exercise progression—the levels in those with fibromyalgia remained the same throughout, as if their bodies simply didn’t respond to the exercise at all.
Autonomic Nervous System Exercise Study Supports Spain’s Findings
The same passivity in Spain’s study was similarly reflected in a second fibromyalgia study involving the autonomic nervous system, which revealed that ANS—which is responsible for regulating blood vessel functioning—in people with fibromyalgia was less reactive than in healthy individuals. In other words, bodies impacted by fibromyalgia don’t appear to respond to exercise in metabolically beneficial ways.
Early Studies Indicate Mitochondrial & Muscle Problems in Fibromyalgia
The concept that poorly functioning mitochondria and muscle problems contribute to fibromyalgia and related disorders is nothing new, as a 2007 study conducted by Dr. David Katz suggested that chronic pain in fibromyalgia is caused by blood vessel problems ("vasomotor dysregulation") and vasoconstriction in muscle, creating hypoperfusion. An even earlier study in 2004 laid the groundwork for Dr. Katz's 2007 study, as it revealed reduced peripheral blood flow in individuals affected with fibromyalgia.
Energy Enhancements in FM Treatment
Research suggests that certain energy-enhancing supplements, such as CoQ10 and acetyl-carnitine, have shown promise as a means to alleviate the chronic pain of fibromyalgia and related conditions. While this is good news for many patients and their loved ones, it’s worth noting that more refined solutions are needed to provide true and lasting relief for those suffering from fibromyalgia.
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