Researchers publish new Canadian guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia

Published on May 7, 2013 at 4:01 AM · 1 Comment

Physicians from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the University of Calgary have published a review article in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) to help family doctors diagnose and treat fibromyalgia. The article represents the first time researchers have published Canadian guidelines to help manage the condition.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system causing pain throughout the body. It is often accompanied by fatigue, depression and sleep problems. It affects mostly women and their multiple symptoms often go years without a proper diagnosis and treatment.

"One million Canadians have fibromyalgia and the time has come to take their suffering seriously. This is a real condition that greatly impacts patients and their families. Finally there are national guidelines to help diagnose and treat this syndrome," says Dr. John Pereira, a study co-author from the University of Calgary's Faculty of Medicine and a physician at the Calgary Chronic Pain Centre.

Fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed by rheumatologists but due to the high prevalence of the disease many patients are not able to seek advice from a specialist. Therefore, primary care physicians are best positioned to take over this role, as recommended by the 2012 Canadian Fibromyalgia Guidelines. In the review, the authors provide evidence-based tools for primary care physicians to make the diagnosis and manage the condition long-term.

"We are the first ones to develop guidelines that look at diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of fibromyalgia," says Dr. Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, corresponding author from the Research Institute of the MUHC and MUHC's rheumatologist. "Currently, there is no cure for fibromyalgia but the guidelines set out the most appropriate management strategy."

Authors recommend non-pharmaceutical interventions such as exercise, relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy as well as medications tailored to the individual patient. The main treatment goal is to improve quality of life by alleviating the most troublesome symptom(s), with pain recognized as the most common and serious.

The authors also urge more research into the effects of early diagnosis and treatment as well as other treatment options. For more information on fibromyalgia, visit http://fmguidelines.ca/.

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Comments
  1. Julia Schopick Julia Schopick United States says:

    I am glad there is so much discussion in the press about Fibromyalgia. I believe I have some information that will be able to help some of your members. In writing my book (HONEST MEDICINE: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases), I learned about a really promising treatment for autoimmune diseases—Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN). I feature LDN in my book. You may be interested to learn that this low-dose, off-label drug, which has been used by many people since the mid-1980s, has been found to be effective for many people with Fibromyalgia.  A study conducted by researchers at Stanford University in California found LDN to be effective at decreasing pain in Fibromyalgia patients: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19453963 (“Fibromyalgia symptoms are reduced by low-dose naltrexone: a pilot study”) Julia Schopick, HonestMedicine.com

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