In a new study entitled “Risk for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Fibromyalgia Patients: A National Database Study” authors report, based on a population study performed with data collected at the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, patients with fibromyalgia are at higher risk to develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome and should be closely monitored. The study was published in the journal Medicine.
Fibromyalgia patients experience widespread musculoskeletal pain, which is accompanied by other symptoms, including fatigue and sleep disruptions. Increasingly suggested in various reports is the occurrence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a condition characterized by chronic abdominal pain in fibromyalgia patients. Both fibromyalgia and IBS impact patients’ quality of life and their capacity to perform routine daily activities.
In this study, the authors performed an observational study to determine if fibromyalgia patients exhibit a higher risk for IBS. The study was conducted with data collected at the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) from patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia who were older than 20 years old. In total, the authors identified 33,729 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia recently (at least within 3 months) and used as controls 134,915 patients without fibromyalgia. The authors followed the patients from 2000 until 2011 and included the moment they were diagnosed with fibromyalgia until they experienced IBS symptoms. They identified previous comorbidity factors that could underlie a possible association between fibromyalgia and IBS, including chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, chronic kidney disease; depression and anxiety; and sleep disturbances, and their associated medications, such as tramadol and antidepressants.
The team found that, after adjusting patients according to age, sex and comorbidities they observed fibromyalgia patients exhibited a higher risk for IBS (specifically, a 1.54-fold increased risk). Additionally, the authors report a correlation between the use of tramadol or antidepressants with a reduction in IBS risk in fibromyalgia patients. Notably, the authors found that the occurrence of other comorbidities, such as chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, depression and sleep disturbances with fibromyalgia increased the risk for IBS.
While the team recognizes the study has limitations, their use of a wide range collection of data from a population-based database is in their view a clear advantage. They recommend, based on the analysis performed in the present study, physicians should pay particular attention to fibromyalgia patients and observe patients annually to monitor and limit the progression of IBS in these patients.