Fibromyalgia 2002 Arthritis Conference Report

William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, Editor of the Arthritis Center, Gives Perspectives Of Interest On Fibromyalgia From 2002 Annual Scientific Meeting Of The American College Of Rheumatology.

Below are perspectives on key reports presented at the recent national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology:

Introduction

Fibromyalgia (formerly known as fibrositis) is a chronic condition that causes pain, stiffness, and tenderness of the muscles, tendons, and joints. Fibromyalgia is also characterized by restless sleep, awakening feeling tired, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and disturbances in bowel function. While fibromyalgia is one of the most common diseases affecting the muscles, its cause is currently unknown. The painful tissues involved are not accompanied by tissue inflammation. Therefore, despite potentially disabling body pain, patients with fibromyalgia do not develop body damage or deformity. Fibromyalgia also does not cause damage to internal body organs. Therefore, fibromyalgia is different from many other rheumatic conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, and polymyositis). In those diseases, tissue inflammation is the major cause of pain, stiffness, and tenderness of the joints, tendons, and muscles, and leads to joint deformity and damage to the internal organs or muscles. Since the symptoms of fibromyalgia are diverse and vary among patients, treatment programs must be individualized. Treatment programs are most effective when they combine patient education, stress reduction, regular exercise, and medications. Recent studies have verified that the best outcome for each patient results from a combination of approaches that involves the patient in customization of the treatment plan.