Fibromyalgia is common and an enormous clinical burden for both patients and society. It is a very complex disease with a variety of symptoms in addition to the defining symptom – chronic widespread pain. These include fatigue, non-restorative sleep, morning stiffness, irritable bowel and bladder, restless legs, depression, anxiety and cognitive dysfunction often referred to as “fibro fog”. All of these symptoms cause serious limitations in patients’ ability to perform ordinary daily chores and work and severely affect their quality of life. The burden on healthcare and society is high. Research in the UK has shown that diagnosis and positive management of fibromyalgia reduces healthcare cost by avoiding unnecessary investigations and consultations. Yet a recent global survey showed that healthcare professionals lack confidence in diagnosing and managing fibromyalgia. The average time from development of symptoms to diagnosis is over 2 years with unnecessary medical referrals and investigations. Educating the public, patients and healthcare professional to promote better recognising and management of fibromyalgia will benefit patient, healthcare providers and society.
Dr. Ernest Choy
Consultant Rheumatologist and Reader in Rheumatology
Director of Clinical Trials Unit in the Academic Department of Rheumatology
King’s College London