(CHICAGO) – New research released today finds Americans living with fibromyalgia suffer from much more than chronic pain, fatigue and depression – they often endure common misperceptions about their condition. The survey, from the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), indicates there is a stigma associated with fibromyalgia, with many patients fearing they will be perceived as “faking” the disease or simply “complaining.” This stigma leads many patients to delay diagnosis and treatment. On average, Americans living with fibromyalgia endure three years of symptoms and visit at least three different physicians before being accurately diagnosed.
Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic pain condition that affects 10 million Americans[i]. However, the condition is often misunderstood. In fact, one in three Americans have never heard of fibromyalgia or do not consider it a disease. Today, the AOA launches a public education campaign, “Living a Full Life with Fibro,” to increase understanding and reduce the potential stigma of a fibromyalgia diagnosis. As the organization representing more than 78,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) in the United States, the AOA hopes to empower people living with fibromyalgia to seek treatment from a physician who can work with them to develop an individualized, patient-centered approach to better manage their specific symptoms.
“Fibromyalgia is a multifaceted condition that impacts each patient differently. However, the most important step to living an active life with fibromyalgia is finding the right physician,” said Jennifer Caudle, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician in Philadelphia and an assistant professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine. “Patients can live normal, healthy lives with the support of family, friends and a physician who is willing to work with them one-on-one to effectively manage this often debilitating disease.”
The Truth about Fibromyalgia Patients
Although fibromyalgia usually appears in patients in their 20s or 30s, the disease is found in all age groups and is most common among women. Fibromyalgia affects patients physically, emotionally and socially, interfering with basic daily activities. The AOA survey found that 97% of fibromyalgia patients can name at least one activity they would do more often if they did not have the condition, including sleeping through the night (81%), exercising (80%) and working (55%).
Nine out of 10 Fibromyalgia Patients Open to New Treatment Options
Once diagnosed, treatment of fibromyalgia focuses on relieving the symptoms. While there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, the condition can be effectively managed by exploring a range of different treatment options, such as, medications, diet, lifestyle changes and other therapies. One unique treatment approach is called osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), a hands-on treatment used by DOs to care for musculoskeletal pain.
To “Live a Full Life with Fibro” the AOA recommends four simple steps:
1. Visit the AOA website at www.osteopathic.org and take advantage of new fibromyalgia assessment tools – the Fibro: Fact or Fiction Quiz and 60 Day Action Plan.
2. Schedule an appointment with a physician who has experience treating fibromyalgia to discuss your symptoms and treatment options.
3. Work with your physician as a partner to develop an individualized treatment plan that meets your needs.
4. Follow a plan and adjust it accordingly until you find the right treatment for you.
“By following an individualized treatment plan, fibromyalgia patients are able to assess new therapeutic options that may provide them with relief and help them live a more full life,” said AOA President Martin S. Levine, DO. “In the fibromyalgia patient, the muscles, bones and surrounding tissues do not function correctly with one another, a dysfunction that is treatable with osteopathic manipulative treatment. Fibromyalgia patients should consider working with a DO who they can partner with to manage chronic diseases through treatment plans that assess progress over time.”
To find more information and download fibromyalgia management tools from the AOA “Living a Full Life with Fibro” campaign, visit www.osteopathic.org.
About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 78,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs); promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at www.osteopathic.org.