Monday, January 14, 2008
Fibromyalgia is Real
An article in today's NY Times Health Section that mentions Pfizer's drug Lyrica, which was recently approved for the treatment of fibromyalgia also discusses some of the controversies regarding the diagnosis. There are some experts that don't believe that fibromyalgia is real, stating that the pain patients feel all over their bodies results from an their inability to “get through life with some vicissitudes." As a practicing internist with many patients who suffer from this condition, I can tell you that the disease is real. There are many illnesses where stress and other psychosocial factors exacerbate a condition; migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, depression to name a few. Though stress management and relaxation techniques can be quite effective in the management of fibromyalgia, this does not make it less real of a disease. Patients' lives are severely impacted, and some of the strongest pain medications often will have no effect. Their pattern of pain is also quite characteristic. We need to continue to research this disease to find out why patients get these pain symptoms in order to find more effective treatments. The approval of Lyrica for fibromyalgia is welcome news for many patients and physicians. All one has to do is either experience fibromyalgia or treat several patients with the conditions to know that the condition is real.