According to a recent study, patients with fibromyalgia are at higher risk to present with anxiety symptoms when compared to patients with other rheumatic diseases. The study findings conducted by Robert S. Katz, MD, and Frank Leavitt, PhD, were presented at American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting that took place last November 14-19 in Boston.
Fibromyalgia (FM) is one of the most common chronic pain conditions that affects the central nervous system. The condition is characterized by chronic diffuse musculoskeletal pain, increased pain sensitivity at multiple tender points, fatigue, abnormal pain processing, disturbed sleep and often, psychological stress. More than the psychical disability, FM causes significant psychological distress because severe symptoms interfere with daily life activities, leading to low quality of life. FM affects 5 million Americans, and estimates are that the condition affects 3% to 6% of the world population. The condition is more prevalent in women, and the diagnosis is usually made between the ages of 20 to 50 years. However, the incidence of FM rises with age; by age 80, approximately 8% of adults meet the American College of Rheumatology classification of fibromyalgia.
The research team examined a total of 191 patients with a diagnosis of a rheumatic disorder (RD). From these, 79 patients were found to have Fibromyalgia (FM) while the other 112 patients were found to have other rheumatic conditions.
Data analysis revealed a significant difference in age between the two groups (FM patients were 51.2 years old and patients from other RD aetiologies were 51.9 years old).
All patients were assessed for anxiety symptoms with the Profile of Moods States and for symptom review section of the American College of Rheumatology patient forms, a symptom checklist covering 13 organs.
Results revealed that FM patients had high scores on eight of the nine items assessing anxiety symptoms, while the group with RD with other aetiologies showed normal anxiety levels. Furthermore, patients with FM were found to have higher levels of illness intensity, compared to the RD group with other aetiologies. Even when the researchers adjust for illness intensity, the FM group remained with higher anxiety symptoms, reducing the greater number of medical problems as a causal factor for anxiety, according to the researchers in a news release.