Fibromyalgia – symptoms other than pain add to disability

Fibromyalgia Disability Image

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that affects approximately 5 million individuals in the United States. These individuals comprise an estimated 5%–6% of all patients in primary care clinics and 10%–20% of all rheumatology outpatients.

Those with fibromyalgia experience significant impairment in quality of life, disability, and incur total health care costs that are three times higher than those without fibromyalgia.

Though characterized primarily by widespread pain, fibromyalgia is associated with a number of additional symptoms, including insomnia, fatigue, mood disturbance, paresthesias, back pain, facial pain, stiffness, headaches and cognitive difficulties. It is the combination of these symptoms – and not just pain – that results in the very high socioeconomic burden of fibromyalgia. Yet current treatment strategies are primarily focused on pain relief.

Pain relief should not be the sole aim of therapy, at least not according to patients. In one recent large survey low back pain was the discrete symptom most commonly reported by those with fibromyalgia, followed by recurrent headaches, arthritis, muscle-spasm, tingling, and balance problems. When those same survey respondents were asked to rank their symptoms by severity, morning stiffness ranked first, followed by fatigue, poor sleep, then pain. About 28% of patients report fatigue as their most debilitating symptom. Clearly, an ideal fibromyalgia medication would address all of these various symptoms.

One Response to Fibromyalgia – symptoms other than pain add to disability
  1. connie gangel
    November 24, 2011 | 6:42 pm

    I’m on disability and I walk with a cane for balance. And right now I’m having shots in my knees and now I had a MRI on my lumbar spine