Background Despite normal spirometric values patients with fibromyalgia had lower values of maximum inspiratory (MIP) and expiratory pressures (MEP) than matched healthy controls. Values of MIP and MEP reflect respiratory muscle strength, therefore low values have been explained by respiratory muscle weakness or dysfunction.
Objectives This study proposed to assess the relationship of chest expansion with maximal inspiratory (MIP) and expiratory pressures (MEP) in primary fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome.
Methods Thirty female patients, aged 22–52, who met the 1990 ACR  criteria for the classification of FM were examined and compared with 29 healthy, age and BMI matched female subjects (aged 24–50). Pulmonary function tests were assessed by a computerised spirometer. The maximum respiratory pressures were carried out by using a digital mouth-pressuremeter. Chest expansion measurements, spirometric values, MIP and MEP values of patients with primary FM have been compared with controls.
Results Patients with FM had lower chest expansion, MEP and MIP values with respect to the controls. Chest expansion correlated significantly with MIP and MEP values. There was no significant difference among groups in spirometric values.
Conclusion Our results indicate that patients with FM have impaired respiratory muscle strength and measurement of chest expansion may be an appropriate and practical method for evaluating respiratory muscle strength in patients with FM.
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