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Most Teens With Fibromyalgia Have Pain as Adults

Four of five continued to experience symptoms, while half had full-blown disorder, study finds

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While these findings could seem discouraging for juvenile fibromyalgia patients, Eberhard said one can look at the glass as being half-full rather than half-empty.

"Nearly half of the originally diagnosed patients with fibromyalgia were improved to the point that they no longer fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia. Many of the patients in the study with fibromyalgia were attending college and indeed some had married and even given birth," she said.

"This is very encouraging as despite having more pain than the controls, these patients were able to lead a normal, productive life," she added.

Even more encouraging is the fact that fibromyalgia treatment options have improved in recent years, particularly for adults, said Dr. Lucinda Bateman, founder of the Fatigue Consultation Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved antidepressant and anticonvulsant medications for adult fibromyalgia, and cognitive behavioral therapy -- a type of mental health counseling -- can be useful in helping patients better cope with their pain. Physical activity also has proven effective in controlling symptoms, the study says.

"It doesn't surprise me that many still have the symptoms, but it appears they do have a better chance of moving through it," Bateman said.

The study does emphasize the importance of properly diagnosing juvenile fibromyalgia, Bateman and Kashikar-Zuck said.

"Parents need to be careful about differentiating growing pains with fibromyalgia," Kashikar-Zuck said. "If they see a child who also has chronic muscle pain but also sleeplessness, they should seriously consider whether an evaluation should be done for fibromyalgia."

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