Does a Rehabilitation Program of Aerobic and Progressive Resisted Exercises Influence HIV-Induced Distal Neuropathic Pain?

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Distal symmetrical polyneuropathy is a common neurological sequela after HIV, which leads to neuropathic pain and functional limitations. Rehabilitation programs with exercises are used to augment pharmacological therapy to relieve pain but appropriate and effective exercises are unknown. This study explored the safety and effect of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises and progressive resisted exercises for HIV-induced distal symmetrical polyneuropathy neuropathic pain.


A randomized pretest, posttest of 12 wks of aerobic exercise or progressive resisted exercise compared with a control. Outcome measures were assessed using the subjective periphery neuropathy, brief peripheral neuropathy screening, and numeric pain rating scale. Pain was assessed at baseline, 6 and 12 wks. Data between groups were compared using Kruskal-Wallis, Mann-Whitney U test, and within-groups Friedman and Wilcoxon signed rank tests.


There were 136 participants (mean [SD] age = 36.79 [8.23] yrs) and the exercise groups completed the protocols without any adverse effects. Pain scores within and between aerobic exercise and progressive resisted exercise groups showed significant improvement (P < 0.05) from baseline to 6 and 12 wks compared with the control (P > 0.05).


This study supports a rehabilitation program of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and progressive resisted exercise being safe and effective for reducing neuropathic pain and is beneficial with analgesics for HIV-induced distal symmetrical polyneuropathy.

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