Fibromyalgia 10 Years Later: Medical Community Still Puzzled
WebMD News Archive
"There is too much emphasis on looking at these syndromes as being
distinct entities [diseases], and that's where I think some physicians and
patients fall into the trap of saying that something like chronic fatigue
syndrome or irritable bowel syndrome are specific conditions. I think it's more
important to look at all of these disorders as 'mind-body' functional illnesses
that have much more common threads," Goldenberg tells WebMD.
In the decade since fibromyalgia was identified, numerous treatment options
have been studied. In clinical trials, several types of treatment -- including
central nervous system medications, cardiovascular fitness training, regional
sympathetic (nerve) block, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, and acupuncture -- have
been effective. Some patients have benefited from taking antidepressants, but
these drugs? beneficial effects appear to decrease over time, Goldenberg notes.
Behavior modification and stress reduction programs also have been shown to be
Despite the continuing controversy, fibromyalgia may receive more attention
in the future, because the costs of caring for people who have it can be
substantial. Studies have shown that patients average 10 outpatient visits per
year and sometimes use several drugs in an attempt to reduce symptoms. One 1996
study found that the mean yearly per-patient cost was $2,274.
Even with good medical care, fibromyalgia studies have shown that most
patients experience little improvement in their overall condition or symptoms.
Nonetheless, Goldberg says, patients with the syndrome find it reassuring to
obtain "a diagnostic label," and just making the diagnosis leads to
decreased use of costly testing and health care services.