Canadian researchers have released the first set of guidelines to help doctors diagnose and manage Fibromyalgia.

The evidence-based guidelines are the first national set in the English-speaking western world, said Dr John Pereira, a co-author of the guidelines from the University of Calgary’s faculty of medicine and a physician at the Calgary Chronic Pain Centre.

“For many years health-care professionals dismissed fibromyalgia as a non-existent condition. And more recently, while people have accepted that perhaps it does exist, still patients were told there was nothing that could be done for them,” Pereira said.

“In these guidelines we have clearly listed how to diagnose this condition and how to treat it effectively. So while there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, there are now good treatments that patients can consider.”

Main-Picture-Licensed-With-CaptionBecause of the prevalence of the condition, the guidelines recommend that primary care physicians take over the diagnosis and management role that has often been left to specialists.

The guidelines suggest a multi-modal treatment such as exercise, cognitive-behavioural therapy, education, self-management and relaxation techniques as well as medications that target a patient’s most bothersome symptoms: pain being the most serious.

The goal of treatment is to improve symptoms and “optimize function,” according to the guidelines. There is no one ideal treatment, although the guidelines say management should be tailored to each patient’s symptoms.

“Currently, there is no cure for fibromyalgia, but the guidelines set out the most appropriate management strategy,” said rheumatologist Dr Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, a corresponding author from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre.

So, wherever you are in the world, perhaps this is something you can show your doctor/s to help establish your treatment plan.

‘F’ is for Failing Fibromyalgia Patients

Managing FM is a challenge for both health care systems and the professionals caring for these patients, due, in part, to the fact that the cause of this condition is unknown, its symptoms are not specific and there is no standardized treatment. (That’s another one of my projects: if you’re Australian, please sign the petition to the Honourable Tanya Plibersek MP – Federal Minister of Health – stressing the need for the Department of Health to provide effective protocols for the treatment of Fibromyalgia.)

A(nother) recent study which (when you hear what it was about, you will really wonder who chooses where the research funds go) examined the specific areas of the health care process that professionals and patients consider unsatisfactory. Why didn’t anyone ask us?

Supposedly, the study contributes to a better understanding of why current management of FM is neither effective nor satisfactory – is that justification for spending all that money?

frustrated-doctor Unsurprisingly, patients reported the need for greater moral support from doctors. On the other side, the medical professionals felt frustrated and of little help to patients – we don’t think about them too much, do we? Both groups expressed frustration with the delay in reaching a diagnosis and obtaining effective treatment. imagesPatients and professionals agreed wholeheartedly on one point: the uncertainty surrounding the management of FM and, especially, its origin. A study was necessary to discover this?

This is the kind of thing I was referring to in my post ‘Where, Oh Where…,’ some of this research just seems BLAH! There is nothing here that the researchers couldn’t have learned by starting a Facebook page and asking!

The only good thing to come out of this study is that it provides insight into how health professionals can support FM patients to achieve beneficial results by offering greater support in the form of specific resources such as clinics and health professionals with increased awareness of the disease. But the question is: will such a sub-standard study be taken seriously by health practitioners?