Mechanically Assisted Breathing Improves Autonomic Function in FM Patients, Study Finds

Mechanically Assisted Breathing Improves Autonomic Function in FM Patients, Study Finds
Mechanically assisted breathing improved autonomic nervous system functions, according to a study of a small group of fibromyalgia (FM) patients. The study, “The effects of slow-paced versus mechanically assisted breathing on autonomic function in fibromyalgia patients,” was published in the Journal of Pain Research. FM often is associated with other symptoms beyond chronic pain, such as fatigue, sleep disorders and depression. Even though there is no treatment for FM, medicines such as analgesics, and activities such as exercise, can help in pain management and improving patients’ quality of life. Previous studies suggested that breathing at a slower pace improved pain and other FM-associated symptoms. A pilot study of 12 FM patients indicated that a slower breathing rate coupled with heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback — an activity by which patients are aware of the physiological parameters being measured, in this case HRV, and can train to control them — reduced pain severity and depression and improved overall functioning. In the new study, researchers wanted to understand how controlled breathing techniques can induce alterations on the autonomic nervous system of FM patients, and relieve symptoms associated with chronic pain. The autonomic nervous system controls the involuntary activity of internal organs such as heart rate, respiratory rate, digestion and sexual arousal. The parasympathetic nervous system is a branch of the autonomic system known as the "rest-and
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  1. Hanan Watson says:

    It seems to me that this is consistent with meditation which can slow down breathing and clear the mind. Tai Chi also has breathing and relaxation techniques that are helpful. I have recently started taking voice lessons and find that the breathing techniques I’m learning are also helpful in opening up and clearing all breathing channels that help regulate the voice and increase the range. It is also a lot of fun. Singing makes me happy too. I personally try to find ways to relax and deepen my breathing while, simultaneously, having fun and enjoying additional benefits.

  2. janet rowley says:

    It would be interesting to know the difference (or similarities) in breathing patterns with slow vs mechanically aided breathing, ie were the participants chest breathing when breathing slow and taking big breaths (2 fx that increase sympathetic drive) or using a relaxed diaphragmatic pattern. Were their CO2 levels different with the different techniques, as this also alters sympathetic drive, as resp rate isn’t the same as minute volume of course. Sounds like an interesting study!

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