Young and middle-aged
fibromyalgia patients report worse symptoms and poorer quality of life than
older patients, a new study reveals.
characterised by symptoms such as musculoskeletal pain and tenderness, fatigue,
and sleep and memory problems. The disorder, which most often affects women,
has no known causes and few effective treatments.
The study included 978
fibromyalgia patients who were divided into three age groups: 39 and younger,
50 to 59, and 60 and older. The younger and middle-aged patients were more
likely to be employed, unmarried, smokers, have a higher education level and
lower body-mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat that takes height and weight
They were also more likely
to have a history of abuse and to have had fibromyalgia symptoms for a shorter
length of time than older patients, the study authors said.
"Among the three age
groups of young, middle-aged and older, symptom severity and quality of life
differs," study senior author Dr Terry Oh, a physical medicine and
rehabilitation physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in a
clinic news release.
The findings were
surprising, because older people generally have poorer quality of life and
physical health than younger people, Oh said.
The researcher noted that
female fibromyalgia patients in all three age groups reported a lower quality
of life than average US women, and that the difference between their physical
health and that of the average woman was more significant than mental health
differences, particularly in young patients.
The study was to be
presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting, in
In other Mayo studies
presented at the meeting, researchers found that about 7% of
fibromyalgia patients have inflammatory rheumatic conditions and that these
patients don't respond as well to treatment as those without rheumatic
diseases, and that fibromyalgia patients may also have skin-related symptoms
such as excessive sweating, burning and other sensations.
Because the studies were
presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The American Academy of
Family Physicians has more about fibromyalgia.