Physical activity protects male patients with post-traumatic stress disorder from developing severe fibromyalgia

Yoav Arnson, Daniella Amital, Leah Fostick, Alisa Silberman, Michael L. Polliack, Joseph Zohar, Alan Rubinow, Howard Amital

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objectives: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) has been associated with various psychiatric and other, ill-defined disorders. We recently showed that fibromyalgia is more prevalent in men suffering from combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this paper we analyze the relationship between engagement in physical activity, the psychometric traits of PTSD and the future development of FMS. Methods: Fifty-five male patients, all known to have combat-related PTSD, were investigated for the presence off fibromyalgia according to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. Each patient completed questionnaires characterizing his quality of sleep, and the Sheehan Disability Scale measuring performance in the familial, social and vocational spheres. Additionally, each of the enrollees was interviewed by an experienced psychiatrist, who then completed a Clinician Administered PTSD Scale, a Clinical Global Impression Scale, and calculated an SF-36 score. Each patient was asked whether he exercised often, occasionally or not at all. The data was analyzed by the χ2 test and by ANOVA. Results: PTSD patients who also suffered from FMS had a more severe form of disease as measured by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) score, 88.2 ± 14.0 (n = 28) compared to 97.6 ± 13.2 of patients with PTSD and FMS (n = 27) (p = 0.013, F(d,f2)-6.61, ANOVA test). Interestingly, engaging in physical exercise was also associated with less severe disease. When the patients were analyzed based on their tender point count (0-5, 6-10, or > 11), the number of tender points decreased with increasing physical activity (p = 0.02, χ2(d,f-4) = 11.3). Conclusion: Physical exercise in male patients with combat-related PTSD provides protection from the future development of fibromyalgia. Furthermore, physical activity is related in this group of patients to a better perception of their quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-533
Number of pages5
JournalClinical and Experimental Rheumatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Stress


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