A new meta-analysis conducted by South Korean researchers has concluded that bone mineral density (BMD) is significantly lower in fibromyalgia patients who are either Caucasian and/or female.
The study, “Association between low bone mineral density and fibromyalgia: a meta-analysis,” was published in the journal Clinical Rheumatology.
While the relationship between fibromyalgia and BMD has never been explained, the correlation between the disease and low bone mineral density is likely true. Low BMD is a dangerous condition because it can put patients at risk for osteoporosis.
Low bone mineral density may exist in fibromyalgia patients due to the fact that most of these patients are in too much pain to exercise frequently, which is a known risk factor for low BMD levels. Also, fibromyalgia patients often don’t get enough exposure to the sun, which leads to low vitamin D levels — another risk factor for low BMD.
Other conditions that are common in fibromyalgia patients include irritable bowel syndrome and depression, which have also been associated with low bone mineral density levels.
Interestingly, both fibromyalgia and low BMD levels are common among women.
Studies that have specifically looked at a potential link between low BMD and fibromyalgia have not reported any significant association. However, this may be due to the fact that the individual studies did not include a sample size large enough to produce a statistically significant result.
So, researchers at the Korea University College of Medicine conducted a meta-analysis of published research studies in order to determine if there is a relationship between bone mineral density and fibromyalgia. In total, 12 studies were included in the analysis, including data from 695 fibromyalgia patients and 784 healthy people, or controls.
Bone mineral density levels were compared between the controls and and fibromyalgia patients. The analysis was also conducted taking into account different ethnicities, site of BMD, age, gender, and measurement method.
Results showed a significantly lower BMD in fibromyalgia patients who were Caucasian, but not in patients who were of Turkish origin. And, when looking at different sites of BMD analysis, results indicated that bone mineral density was significantly lower in the lumbar region of the spine in fibromyalgia patients, but not in the femur, neck, or hip.
When analyzing the different measurement methods, results showed that a significantly lower BMD in fibromyalgia patients was detected if the method used was dual X-ray absorptiometry and dual-photon absorptiometry. But BMD was not found to be lower when the measurement method was quantitative ultrasound.
Regarding gender, additional analysis revealed significantly lower bone mineral density levels in female fibromyalgia patients.
These results led the researchers to suggest that BMD is significantly lower in fibromyalgia patients who are either Caucasian and female, indicating the disease may be a risk factor for osteoporosis.