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Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2015 Feb;29(1):120-30. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2015.04.022. Epub 2015 May 23.

Physical exercise as non-pharmacological treatment of chronic pain: Why and when.

Author information

1
Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Electronic address: kirsten_ambrose@med.unc.edu.
2
Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Injury Prevention Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Abstract

Chronic pain broadly encompasses both objectively defined conditions and idiopathic conditions that lack physical findings. Despite variance in origin or pathogenesis, these conditions are similarly characterized by chronic pain, poor physical function, mobility limitations, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance, and they are treated alone or in combination by pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches, such as physical activity (aerobic conditioning, muscle strengthening, flexibility training, and movement therapies). Physical activity improves general health, disease risk, and progression of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. When applied to chronic pain conditions within appropriate parameters (frequency, duration, and intensity), physical activity significantly improves pain and related symptoms. For chronic pain, strict guidelines for physical activity are lacking, but frequent movement is preferable to sedentary behavior. This gives considerable freedom in prescribing physical activity treatments, which are most successful when tailored individually, progressed slowly, and account for physical limitations, psychosocial needs, and available resources.

KEYWORDS:

Aerobic; Arthritis; Chronic pain; Chronic widespread pain; Exercise; Fibromyalgia; Non-pharmacological treatment; Strength

PMID:
26267006
PMCID:
PMC4534717
DOI:
10.1016/j.berh.2015.04.022
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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