Stressful Events, Pain Are Key Issues in Fibromyalgia Patients

Stressful Events, Pain Are Key Issues in Fibromyalgia Patients

In a study titled “Evaluation of the accuracy of several symptoms and domains in distinguishing patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia from healthy controls,” published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, researchers found that fibromyalgia patients reported a psychologically or physically stressful event before the onset of symptoms.

Health-related quality of life, tender points, and fatigue continue to be key issues in the clinical assessment of patients with fibromyalgia. To evaluate the discriminative power of several fibromyalgia symptoms that may aid in the diagnosis of patients, a team of researchers led by Claudio Gómez-Perretta at the Research Foundation of La Fe Hospital in Valencia, Spain, identified 79 women with fibromyalgia with a mean age of 46.2 years and compared them with a group of 66 women without the condition.

All patients were examined using the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria and assessed with the Spanish version of the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and pain on a visual analog scale (VAS). Researchers assessed 18 tender points defined by the ACR, along with associated symptoms and co-morbid conditions.

The results revealed that 77.5 percent of patients reported a psychologically stressful event before symptom onset, and 31 percent reported a physical episode that was perceived as a trigger of the syndrome. A total of 31.4 percent of the patients reported a family history of fibromyalgia.

In comparison to the healthy group, patients with fibromyalgia had a lower mean pressure pain threshold, reported more anxiety, insomnia, depression, and loss of memory. Morover, quality of life, vitality, fatigue, VAS, physical role and physical body scores were significantly worse for FM patients.

In addition to pain, health-related quality of life and fatigue and vitality were confirmed as the best predictors of individuals with FM. According to the researchers, tender point count and especially pressure pain threshold, measured with an algometer, continue to be key issues in the clinical assessment of subjects with FM relative to pain-free controls.