Managing the All-Too-Real Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Syndrome

By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor


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Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is one of the most common rheumatic disorders, affecting as many as 15 million people in this country, the vast majority of them women. People with FMS typically experience chronic widespread pain, as well as various concurrent symptoms that can include fatigue, cognitive disturbances (such as memory problems, confusion, and difficulty concentrating), distressed mood (especially anxiety and depression), nonrestorative sleep, and muscular stiffness. One study found that up to 65% of patients experienced lost workdays as a result.

Yet as author Victoria Menzies reports in one of our January CE features, “Fibromyalgia Syndrome: Current Considerations in Symptom Management,” many health care providers “doubt the syndrome’s validity.” Diagnosis is often delayed for years.

Menzies provides a concise overview of the illness, which has no known cure, and then focuses on what can be done to alleviate symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life. Here’s a brief overview of the article:

Symptom management appears to be best addressed using a multimodal approach, with treatment strategies tailored to the individual. While medication may provide adequate symptom relief for some patients, experts generally recommend integrating both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic approaches. Some patients may benefit from the adjunctive use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities. Because symptom remission is rare and medication adverse effects can complicate symptom management, well-informed nursing care practices and patient education are essential. This article describes the existing treatment guidelines, discusses pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic approaches (including CAM-based modalities), and outlines nursing approaches aimed at enhancing patient self-management.

Menzies looks at the evidence for four CAM-based modalities in particular—hypnosis and guided imagery, mindfulness-based interventions, certain exercise modalities, and acupuncture. Though more research is needed, these interventions appear to have potential as useful adjunctive treatments for people with FMS.

For more, read the article and listen to our interview with the author, both free online.

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  1. Jacob Molyneux February 2, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks for the question. We’re looking into this and will email you privately to respond.
    -The Editors

  2. karen January 29, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I passed the test for Fibromyalgia but was unable to purchase the CE because I couldn’t find the coupon code at the bottom of the article!

Comments are moderated before approval, but always welcome.

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