Background: As pain is the cardinal symptom of fibromyalgia, it is logical that treatments directed toward pain relief will be commonly used.
Analgesic drug therapy remains the traditional treatment intervention for most chronic pain conditions, with a progressive increased use of opioids in the past 20 years. Concerns about efficacy, risk-benefit ratio, and possible long-term effects of chronic opioid therapy have been raised.
There is limited information about opioid treatment in fibromyalgia, with all current guidelines discouraging opioid use.
Methods: A chart review of all patients referred to a tertiary care pain center clinic with a referring diagnosis of fibromyalgia was conducted to evaluate use of opioid medications.
We have recorded opioid use by 32% of 457 patients referred to a multidisciplinary fibromyalgia clinic, with over two thirds using strong opioids.
Opioid use was more commonly associated with lower education, unemployment, disability payments, current unstable psychiatric disorder, a history of substance abuse, and previous suicide attempts.
Conclusion: We have observed negative health and psychosocial status in patients using opioids and labeled as fibromyalgia.
Prolonged use of opioids in fibromyalgia requires evaluation.
Source: American Journal of Medicine, Oct 2011;124(10):955-60. PMID: 21962316, by Fitzcharles MA, Ste-Marie PA, Gamsa A, Ware MA, Shir Y. Division of Rheumatology, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.