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How patients with fibromyalgia (FM) experience their symptoms in everyday life

  [ 73 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • January 15, 1999

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is
characterized by diffuse widespread pain and fatigue. The
purpose of this study was to search for a deeper knowledge of
the way patients with FMS experience their symptoms in
everyday life.

METHOD: Qualitative interviews, applying the
phenomenological method, were used. The respondents were
interviewed twice and asked to describe a typical day. Eleven
Swedish women, aged 24-54 years, fulfilling the ACR criteria
for FMS participated in the study. The duration of pain ranged
from three to 20 years. Three patients worked full-time, six
worked part-time and two did not work outside the home.

RESULTS: The effect of perceived symptoms on everyday life was
considerable. Four different patterns of perceiving and
managing symptoms were identified: Struggling: respondents who
perceived that they managed their everyday life by mobilizing
their physical and psychological strength to fight their pain
and fatigue; Adapting: respondents who perceived that they
managed their everyday life by planning their activities on
the basis of their assumptions of limitations; In despair:
respondents who were in despair as they could no longer cope
with their pain and life situation; Giving up: respondents who
had given up many activities of everyday life and felt that
their symptoms dominated their life.

illuminates qualitative differences in FMS patients'
experience and management of their symptoms in their everyday
life. These differences ought to be considered when planning
physiotherapy treatment.

Mannerkorpi K, Kroksmark T, Ekdahl C

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