Long-Term Exercise Can Reduce Vets' Muscle Pain

Researchers find initial workout increased pain, but stress that regular sessions will reduce it

THURSDAY, Aug. 26, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- A bout of exercise can worsen the aches of American military veterans suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain, a small new study shows,

But researchers say that it's only temporary.

Long-term exercise, they stress, can help reduce veterans' chronic pain.

About 100,000 veterans from the first Gulf War war have reported chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP) similar to fibromyalgia. The researchers used heat to test the pain sensitivity of 15 Gulf War veterans with CMP and 17 healthy veterans of that war after a workout. Compared to the healthy participants, veterans with CMP found the heat stimuli to be more intense and unpleasant.

The vets with CMP also reported more intense leg pain during exercise and were more sensitive to the heat stimuli after the bout of exercise than they were before it. However, there were no significant differences in the pain threshold between vets with CMP and healthy vets.

Previous research has found that chronic (long-term) exercise can help reduce chronic muscle pain, noted the researchers, who worked at Middleton Memorial Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin.

Doctors need to encourage regular exercise for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain in order to prevent disability, even though the early stages of an exercise program may cause increased pain for a short time, according to the researchers.

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Pain.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about treatment of musculoskeletal pain.

SOURCE: American Pain Society, Aug. 20, 2010, news release.
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