Recovery of peripheral muscle function from fatiguing exercise and daily physical activity level in patients with multiple sclerosis: A case control study


Ickmans K, Simoens F, Nijs J, Kos D, Cras P, Willekens B, Meeus M


Department of Physical Medicine and Physiotherapy, University Hospital Brussels, Belgium


Delayed recovery of muscle function following exercise has been demonstrated in the lower limbs of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). However, studies examining this in the upper limbs are currently lacking. This study compared physical activity level (PAL) and recovery of upper limb muscle function following exercise between MS patients and healthy inactive controls. Furthermore, the relationship between PAL and muscle recovery was examined.


PAL of 19 MS patients and 32 controls was measured using an accelerometer for 7 consecutive days. Afterwards, recovery of muscle function was assessed by performing a fatiguing upper limb exercise test with subsequent recovery measures.


Muscle recovery of the upper limb muscles was similar in both groups. Average activity counts were significantly lower in MS patients than in the control group. MS patients spent significantly more time being sedentary and less time on activities of moderate intensity compared with the control group. No significant correlation between PAL and recovery of muscle function was found in MS patients.


Recovery of upper limb muscle function following exercise is normal in MS patients. MS patients are less physically active than healthy inactive controls. PAL and recovery of upper limb muscle function appear unrelated in MS patients.


The study was funded by ME Research UK. Mira Meeus is awardee of the 2012 early research career grant of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), funded by the ScanDesign Foundation by Inger & Jens Bruun.


Clinical Neurology & Neurosurgery, 2014 Jul; 122: 97-105

Comment by ME Research UK

This is a companion publication to a previous report in European Journal of Clinical Investigation, in which Dr Kelly Ickmans (ME Research UK research fellow at Vrije Universiteit Brussel) reported that upper limb muscle recovery was significantly slower in ME/CFS patients with fibromyalgia than healthy people (muscle strength was still recovering 30-45 minutes after the exercise). See our short comment, Recovery of upper limb muscle function.

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