Fibromyalgia is a chronic widespread pain disorder, estimated to affect one in 20 people worldwide. It causes pain throughout the body, and often patients experience simultaneous conditions including fatigue and sleep problems, headaches and irritable bowel and bladder problems. After osteoarthritis, it is the second most common disorder observed by rheumatologists, yet there is no known cause or cure. The persistent and debilitating nature of the disorder can have a devastating effect on peoples’ lives.
This Sunday, May 12th, marks Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, which aims to increase public awareness of the disease, and educate patients and the medical community. This year, Fibromyalgia Awareness Day coincides with the publication of Canadian guidelines for the diagnosis and management of fibromyalgia in adults. The authors recommend that improved quality of life is the main treatment outcome, achieved by alleviating pain or the most troublesome symptom(s).
Alcohol, fibromyalgia, and quality of life
A study published in March in Arthritis Research & Therapy surveyed patients with fibromyalgia to examine the association between alcohol and their severity of symptoms and quality of life. It suggests that low and moderate drinkers have better scores for physical function, ability to work, the number of work days missed, fatigue and pain than people who abstained. The Mayo Clinic researchers suspect that alcohol’s ability to raise γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the central nervous system might be accountable for these results.
Lifestyle effects were further assessed by Bjersing and colleagues in a recent trial that examined the long-term effects of aerobic exercise on fatigue in lean, overweight and obese women with fibromyalgia. Results show that exercise reduces fatigue in all patients, with the effect achieved earlier in lean patients and associated with increased levels of the adipokine resistin.
Mechanisms and management of fibromyalgia
With new developments continually arising from fibromyalgia research, Arthritis Research & Therapy has commissioned a review series that will explore the latest hot topics including the pain-prone phenotype, animal model studies in fibromyalgia and why the syndrome is important to rheumatologists. To be notified of publication of these articles, you can sign up for article alerts from Arthritis Research & Therapy here.