Disease process of Fibromyalgia in patient education programs
Important points regarding the disease process that should be emphasized in patient education programs
1. FM is a “real” and objective disease. This fact provides relief to the many patients whose chronic symptoms are labeled as purely psychologic or imagined.
2. Understanding disease comorbidities and the pathophysiology of FM is important for patients. It can reassure them of a unifying diagnosis and provide insight in to subsequent strategies for symptom control.
3. A serious underlying disorder such as malignancy or destructive arthritis is not responsible for the symptoms of FM (unless FM is secondary to one of these disorders).
4. The patient plays a central role in symptom management in FM. Many facets of therapy are patient-directed, such as physical activity, sleep hygiene, enrollment in CBT, and solicitation of support from family, friends, and patient support groups. Establishing manageable goals, tracking progress, and remaining committed to an improvement in functionality can provide patients with a sense of control over their disease.
5. FM is a chronic illness. Similar to other chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, it can be managed through lifestyle modification and medicine, but not cured.
6. Effective treatment strategies should aim for improved functionality and symptom control. Current treatment modalities in FM, similar to other chronic pain conditions, help manage but do not eliminate symptoms such as pain and fatigue. Reasonable expectations (i.e., at most 50% improvement) for symptom management should be established, with manageable goals aimed at incremental improvement.