Decreased muscle blood flow in fibromyalgia patients during standardised muscle exercise: A contrast media enhanced colour doppler study


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The aim of the study was to investigate if contrast enhanced ultrasound (US) imaging of muscular blood flow during and following exercise could detect alterations in vascularity in fibromyalgia (FM) patients. Ten FM patients and 10 matched controls were examined with US during standardised static and directly following static and dynamic muscular contractions of the infraspinatus muscle. Doppler ultrasound evaluation was performed before and after the administration of ultrasound contrast media. The FM patients had lower magnitude of muscle vascularity following dynamic (p < 0.001) and during (p < 0.002) static exercise compared to controls. The immediate flow response to muscular activity was not only of a lower magnitude, but also of a shorter duration in FM patients following dynamic exercise (p < 0.001) and during static exercise (p < 0.01). There were no statistically significant group differences in blood flow intensity or duration following static contraction. In conclusion, contrast enhanced US was found useful to study real-time muscle blood flow changes during and following standardised, low-intensity exercise in FM patients and healthy controls. Our results support the suggestion that muscle ischemia can contribute to pain in FM, possibly by maintaining the central nervous changes such as central sensitisation/disinhibition. US with contrast can be a new valuable approach to assess muscle perfusion in pain patients during standardised exercise.