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Originally published August 17 2008

Swimming in Warm Water Eases Fibromyalgia Pain

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A regular, guided exercise regimen in warm water can relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Extremadura, Spain and the University of Evora, Portugal, and published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Fibromyalgia is an unexplained medical condition with no known cure. It is characterized by chronic, severe muscle pain and tenderness, pain in the shoulders and neck, sleep trouble, anxiety and depression. Approximately 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients are women.

Researchers studied 33 female fibromyalgia patients between the ages of 37 and 71. Seventeen of the women were assigned to take part in one hour of supervised aquatic exercise sessions for eight months. The women were guided through a warmup, strength exercises, aerobics and a cool down session in waist-deep warm water for one hour, three times per week. The 16 women in the other group were told to remain sedentary.

The researchers found that women in the exercise group experienced a reduction in their fibromyalgia symptoms and an improvement in their overall health-related quality of life.

Prior research has indicated that fibromyalgia symptoms can be eased by an exercise regimen, but that symptoms return if patients become sedentary again.

"The addition of an aquatic exercise program to the usual care for fibromyalgia in women is cost-effective in terms of both health care costs and societal costs," the researchers wrote. "Appropriate aquatic exercise is a good health investment."

Fibromyalgia is most commonly treated with painkillers, exercise, relaxation therapy and low doses of antidepressants. Because the disease does not respond well to standard painkillers, the FDA recently approved a new type of painkiller for the condition. The drug, known generically as pregabalin and marketed by Pfizer as Lyrica, targets the nerve cells that produce the sensation of pain.

The current study did not distinguish between the effectiveness of aquatic versus other gentle exercises, such as walking or Tai Chi.

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