Someone recently shared a comment made by her physician at Duke University that horrified me. I was appalled that a physician would make such a statement, so I want to share my reaction with you. It goes like this…
“Of the binary variables, irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, and headache had variable importance. However, they added no power to correct classification and we did not include them in the diagnostic criteria.” (Page 208, Wolfe, et al., 2010).
“[Fibromyalgia] has been known to exist for more than a hundred years. Symptoms of what we know today as FM were first described in the seventeen hundreds, and the disorder was first observed and documented by British surgeon William Balfour in 1816. In 1904 the same collection of symptoms was recognized by another British fibromyalgia pioneer, Sir William Gowers, who described chronic soft tissue syndromes as fibromyositis.” (Excerpt Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection.)
*1. “Fibromyalgia patients have a continuum of symptoms; a diagnosis based on a strict numerical cutoff is subject to error.” In other words, a physician or nurse practitioner should not be limited by a subjective questionnaire. They should rely on their abilities to physically assess a patient with hands-on exam to assess physical complaints, take a patient history, order and interpret test results, complete a physical exam, and apply their diagnostic skills. No practitioner should limit the scope of their abilities. Without these expert assessments, we would not know that the tender point count has not stringently met the 1990 ACR criteria.
*2. “The presence of another pain disorder or related symptoms does not rule out a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.” We know from the literature that fibromyalgia can and often does coexist with certain other disorders, such as those defined by the CDC. Dr. Wolfe's modification of his 2010 criteria suggests in point three under the description of the criteria above in order to diagnose fibromyalgia, “the patient does not have a disorder that would otherwise sufficiently explain the pain.
* 3. “A careful clinical evaluation is always required in order to identify any condition that could fully account for the patient’s symptoms and/or contribute to the severity of the symptoms.” A clinical evaluation includes the parameters mentioned above in *1. The Bennett investigators conclude that a patient’s symptoms should be investigated seriously and not be dismissed as poly-symptom somatic complaints as suggested by the Wolfe team of investigators. This is important because many of the symptoms fibromyalgia patients experience can be attributed to other treatable conditions that affects patient outcome.