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How does fibromyalgia compare with other chronic pain conditions?

Dr. Dawn Marcus
Neurologist

In an interesting study conducted at the Rehabilitation Foundation Limburg in the Netherlands, scientists compared quality of life in people with fibromyalgia to those with other chronic pain problems. As you might guess, quality of life was substantially lower in the fibromyalgia group compared with healthy people without pain. What was perhaps more surprising was that quality of life was worse with fibromyalgia than with other common painful conditions, such as chronic low back pain and rheumatoid arthritis.

The comparison with rheumatoid arthritis was especially interesting because rheumatoid arthritis also causes widespread pain and a range of other symptoms, including stiffness and fatigue. Unlike fibromyalgia, people with rheumatoid arthritis develop joint damage and deformities over time, so they may have a highly visible disability. Despite "looking worse," however, people with rheumatoid arthritis are actually less affected by their symptoms than are those with fibromyalgia.

The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

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The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit tells readers what they need to know to take control of fibromyalgia symptoms. It includes step-by-step instructions for using effective non-drug treatments,...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.