Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE Spring 2015, Issue 11 - Page 28

non-pain problem (96% of respondents reported stiffness). This was shortly followed by physical weakness, effort intolerance, reduced mental abilities and the effect of weather changes. Environmental intolerance to noise, perfumes and cold was reported in 75-92% of subjects. Existential problems such as feeling guilty about being a burden, feeling hopeless and depressed, friends’ inability to understand, wondering how it will all end and sometimes feeling suicidal (39%), provide a vivid picture of what it means to be a person with fibromyalgia. Suicidal ideation has been described in several recent papers; and this current survey adds to the increasing recognition that the frustration of having a poorly recognized chronic pain disorder to lead to thoughts as to “where it all ends,” and “maybe ending my life is one way out.” WHAT ARE YOUR SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA? Medical practice has been forever changed by the ability of patients to consult the Internet. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are not the only fountain of knowledge. In general, this is for the good, as many studies have associated education with a better outcome. It certainly appears that fibromyalgia patients are not an exception, with the majority obtaining information from the Internet in addition to consultations with healthcare professionals, as well as reading books and publications. WHAT IS YOUR WORK STATUS? Fibromyalgia patients often have difficulty remaining productively employed due to increased pain on activity, severe fatigue and problems with memory and concentration. In this survey 25% of the subjects were fully employed and 10% had part-time employment. Eight percent were unemployed and unable to get a job. Some 11% of subjects rated themselves disabled, but could not qualify for Social 28  Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Life Sp r i n g 2 0 1 5 Security Disability (SSD). However, 27% of subjects were receiving SSD payments. Some 16% subjects were retired. Overall these figures are very similar to published data. OTHER DIAGNOSES Virtually all fibromyalgia patients have developed some other medical problems by the time they reach middle age. As you can see in the current survey over 1,000 of the 2,178 subjects had low back pain and over 800 suffered from migraine headaches. About 30% of subjects had ostheoarthritis of the hands, knees and hips; in many subjects this will considerably add to the