Prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders in patients with fibromyalgia and the role of psychologic distress – Source: Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Apr 2009

Background & aims: Fibromyalgia is a rheumatologic disorder associated with somatic and psychologic conditions. Although fibromyalgia is associated with irritable bowel syndrome, its relationship with other functional gastrointestinal disorders* (FGID) is unclear. We evaluated the prevalence of FGID in patients with fibromyalgia and the role of psychologic factors in this relationship.

Methods: From a Spanish population, 100 patients with fibromyalgia and 100 matched controls completed the Rome II Integrative Questionnaire to assess the prevalence of FGID and the Symptom Checklist-90 Revised (SCL-90R) to evaluate psychologic distress. Patients completed the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire to evaluate the overall impact of fibromyalgia and controls filled out the Chronic Widespread Pain Questionnaire to detect potential cases of fibromyalgia.

Results: Ninety-three percent of the total study population was female, with a mean age of 50 years. We identified 6 cases of widespread pain among controls. The average Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire score for patients was 67.28 +/- 14.25.

All gastrointestinal symptoms except for vomiting were more frequent in patients.

Ninety-eight percent of patients with fibromyalgia had at least one FGID, compared with only 39% of controls. Fibromyalgia was correlated most highly with irritable bowel syndrome. Patients presented with significantly higher scores of psychologic distress than controls, especially those with fecal incontinence.

Conclusions: There is a prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders in patients with fibromyalgia and a wider distribution of such symptoms along the gastrointestinal tract compared with controls. We propose that an increased degree of psychologic distress in these patients predisposes them to functional gastrointestinal disorders, especially significant for anorectal syndromes.

* [Note: to quote the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, “The term ‘functional’ is generally applied to disorders where the body's normal activities in terms of the movement of the intestines, the sensitivity of the nerves of the intestines, or the way in which the brain controls some of these functions is impaired. However, there are no structural abnormalities that can be seen by endoscopy, x-ray, or blood tests. Thus it is identified by the characteristics of the symptoms and infrequently, when needed, limited tests. The Rome diagnostic criteria categorize the functional gastrointestinal disorders and define symptom based diagnostic criteria for each category.]

Source: Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Apr 2009;7(4):438-45. PMID: 19138763, by Almansa C, Rey E, Sánchez RG, Sánchez AA, Díaz-Rubio M. Digestive Diseases Department, Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Madrid, Spain. [E-mail:]

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