Calf Muscle Pump Stimulation as a Means to Reduce Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Syndrome

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Fibromyalgia (FM) is a debilitating chronic condition that often affects women in midlife with widespread pain that interrupts attempts to exercise. The purpose of this pilot study was to test the efficacy of calf muscle pump (CMP) stimulation as an adjuvant therapy for FM by (1) assessing the correlation of the level of symptoms, as measured by the revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR), and blood pressure (BP), (2) measuring change in mean FIQR scores for subjects who use a CMP-stimulation device for 12 weeks, and (3) measuring the correlation of total device usage and the level of symptoms as measured by the FIQR. The 29 male and female participants (mean age = 47.3 years) were screened using the Widespread Pain Index (WPI), Symptom Severity (SS) score, and the FIQR. Participants were contacted weekly, and progress was assessed using the WPI, SS score, and the FIQR as well as general questions regarding responses to CMP stimulation. The attrition rate was high, which is not uncommon in studies of patients with FM. We found that diastolic BP was significantly inversely correlated with baseline FIQR scores during quiet sitting. Further, 12 weeks of CMP stimulation was associated with significant improvement in average FIQR scores at a rate of approximately -1.5 points per week (R2 = .9; p ≤ .0001). Total device usage was strongly and inversely correlated with baseline FIQR scores (R2 = .43; p = .02). These findings suggest that CMP stimulation may provide an additional treatment option for individuals with FM who are challenged to perform traditional forms of exercise.

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