The occurrence & impact of generalized pain – fibromyalgia research

A major problem with estimating the impact of chronic
generalized pain is that the term remains undefined. It
appears to encompass several distinct clinical entities,
including rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, which can
exist alone or together in a given individual. Nonetheless,
chronic generalized pain appears to have a sizable impact on
both the individual and society. Although little is known
about causal relationships, demographic risk factors for
chronic generalized pain are female sex, age in the forties
and fifties, lower income, lower education, and being divorced
or separated. Chronic generalized pain affects the individual
in several ways, including physical and psychological
distress, losses of function, quality of life, employment and
income, and prolonged litigation for many. Its impact on
society includes increased utilization of health care
resources, loss of work productivity, disability and insurance
costs, costs of litigation and social policy. Future research
into the impact of chronic generalized pain must begin by
defining this term in a way that is both valid in construct
and convenient to use. Research is also warranted to develop
and validate diagnostic tools that may better distinguish
various subsets of chronic generalized pain, both to better
understand the pathological processes involved and to allow
for estimates of the relative contribution of each subset to
societal costs.

White KP, Harth M

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