Fibromyalgia Takes its Toll in People with Inflammatory Spine Disease

Fibromyalgia Takes its Toll in People with Inflammatory Spine Disease
Patients with the inflammatory disease axial spondyloarthritis, affecting the spine, often are affected by fibromyalgia, which worsens the impact of the disease on their quality of life. While both physical and psychological health is affected, the presence of fibromyalgia did not impact levels of inflammation or most disease symptoms unrelated to the spine. The study, The co-occurrence of axial spondyloarthritis and fibromyalgia: results from a national register (BSRBR-AS),” was presented at the Rheumatology 2017 Meeting, held April 25-27 in Birmingham, England. Axial spondyloarthritis is a condition in which inflammation in the spine causes some vertebrae to fuse, making people develop a hunched posture. Unlike fibromyalgia, the disease is more common in men. While physicians have noted that fibromyalgia sometimes appears among these patients, up to now the two conditions have not been the focus of a common study. A research team at the University of Aberdeen in the U.K. recruited patients from The British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register for Ankylosing Spondylitis (BSRBR-AS). Since 2015, patients included in the registry also are screened for fibromyalgia. Of 886 patients included in the study, 69% were men and 17.7% — or one in six — were diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Included patients either had newly started treatments with antibodies against tumor necrosis factor (TNF) to harness the inflammation, or never had used any biologic drugs. Those who had both axial spondyloarthritis and fibromyalgia scored higher o
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    • Magdalena Kegel says:

      Hi Patricia,
      I’m sorry to hear about your condition.
      Researchers have, however, not looked into how to best manage the co-occurrence of the two diseases yet.

  1. Denise Bault says:

    Isn’t this study somewhat skewed with 69% of the patients being men? Where are the women? Nine out of ten fibromyalgia sufferers are female!

    • Magdalena Kegel says:

      Hi Denise,
      The study included only patients with axial spondyloarthritis — a condition more common in men — and examined how many had fibromyalgia. If researchers, instead, looked at a fibromyalgia population to examine how common the inflammatory spine condition is, numbers would likely, look different.

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