Patients' perceptions of exercise therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome: a survey.

J. G. McVeigh, A. Lucas, D. A. Hurley, J. R. Basford, G. D. Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To identify patients' perceptions of the role and benefits of exercise in the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). DESIGN: A postal questionnaire was sent to all 225 members of the Northern Ireland Fibromyalgia Support Group. The questionnaire consisted of 19 questions and was sub-divided into four sections: (1) background information; (2) previous treatment; (3) opinions on the role of exercise in FMS and (4) current participation in, and barriers to, exercise. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: A response rate of 51.1% (115/225) was achieved. Forty nine percent (57) of respondents were receiving FMS-associated disability benefits and 13% (15) were working full-time. All reported previous treatment for FMS. Ninety-six (84%) had received medication and 82 (71%) exercise-based therapy. Just over half (42/82) of those who had participated in exercise therapy reported it to be an effective management strategy. Two thirds (48/71) of those who used bedrest, and over half (52/96) of those who used medications reported these interventions to be effective. Eighty-two per cent (94) 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that exercise improved fitness and 60% (69) 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that exercise increased feelings of well-being, but only 13.9% (16) reported that it reduced their pain. The most commonly reported barriers to exercise were fatigue (85%, 98) and pain (73%, 84). CONCLUSION: Exercise therapy is a common treatment for fibromyalgia syndrome, but while respondents accepted its general health benefits, the vast majority did not report that it reduced their pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-107
Number of pages10
JournalMusculoskeletal Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Chiropractics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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