Fibromyalgia is a painful disorder that mainly affects adult women, but teens can develop the condition as well. A recent study explored whether teens with fibromyalgia still had symptoms as adults.
Results of this study showed that most adolescent patients still had fibromyalgia symptoms when they reached adulthood.
The researchers hope these findings will spur new research on ways to help children with fibromyalgia.
Daniel Strotman, PhD, from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues conducted this study to find out how many juvenile-onset (begins in childhood) fibromyalgia patients had symptoms that continued into adulthood.
The researchers followed 85 patients, who developed fibromyalgia in their teens, for approximately seven years.
The study used the 2010 American College of Rheumatology definition of fibromyalgia, which is defined as symptoms that last at least three months. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include continuous fatigue, painful areas in the body, feeling unrefreshed when waking and memory or thought problems. These symptoms are considered fibromyalgia if there is not another health problem explaining the condition.
Patients were assessed using these criteria at the beginning of the study. At the end of the study, patients completed an online questionnaire about their pain and symptoms.
An examiner also saw the patients at the end of the study to see if they were having painful areas in any of the 18 tender points associated with fibromyalgia.
At the end of the seven years, the researchers found that approximately 46 percent of patients (39 patients) met the criteria for fibromyalgia and had 11 tender points out of 18.
Another 37.6 percent (32 patients) had some symptoms but did not meet the full criteria for fibromyalgia.
Approximately 16 percent of the patients (14 patients) no longer had fibromyalgia symptoms.
Patients who continued to have fibromyalgia reported having higher levels of anxiety, depression and functional disability compared to patients who showed improvement by the follow-up.
The authors stated that the majority of patients with juvenile-onset fibromyalgia continued to have fibromyalgia symptoms. They said that this study shows the importance of finding early and effective ways to improve the health of patients with juvenile-onset fibromyalgia.
This study was presented on a poster at the 2013 American Pain Society conference.
The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The authors reported no conflict of interest.