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Exercise Alters Pain Sensitivity in Veterans With Chronic Pain

Gulf War vets with chronic musculoskeletal pain have greater pain after acute exercise than peers

MONDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Veterans of the first Gulf War (GVs) with chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP) appear to be more sensitive to heat-pain stimuli after acute exercise, according to research published in the August issue of the Journal of Pain.

Dane B. Cook, Ph.D., of the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wis., and colleagues analyzed pain sensitivity to heat and pressure stimuli before and after a bout of acute exercise in 32 GVs -- 15 with CMP and 17 without.

The researchers found that, following exercise, the GVs with CMP reported greater intensity of pain and higher affect ratings than the GVs without CMP. Those with CMP also rated exercise as more painful and requiring more effort, and they were more heat-pain stimuli sensitive than their healthy GV peers. Thresholds for pain, however, did not differ between the two groups.

"These data are consistent with the psychophysical and exercise literature for fibromyalgia patients and suggest similar mechanisms of pain maintenance may be present in these distinct chronic muscle-pain populations. Our results, and those of others, also suggest that exercise can be developed as a unique model to understand pain-modulation mechanisms in healthy men and women and those with CMP," the authors write.

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