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New Guidelines for Managing Fibromyalgia

Experts address diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up for first time (May 6)

Physicians at McGill University and the University of Calgary in Canada have published new guidelines in the May 6 online edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal to help general practitioners diagnose and treat fibromyalgia.

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. The disorder mostly affects women, and their multiple symptoms often go years without a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed by rheumatologists, but because of the high prevalence of the disease, many patients are not able to seek advice from a specialist, according to the authors. Therefore, primary care physicians are best positioned to take over this role.

“We are the first ones to develop guidelines that look at diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of fibromyalgia,” said corresponding author Dr. Mary-Ann Fitzcharles. “Currently, there is no cure for fibromyalgia, but the guidelines set out the most appropriate management strategy.”

In their review, the authors recommend non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and 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 symptoms, with pain recognized as the most common and serious symptom.

The authors also urge more research into the effects of early diagnosis and treatment, as well as other treatment options.

Source: McGill University; May 6, 2013.

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