Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain: Which Patients Have It Worse?

Chronic painful conditions can have a significant negative impact on a patient's quality of life, but are some conditions worse than others? A recent study sought to determine which chronic pain condition creates the biggest burden on patient quality of life.

Chronic painful conditions can have a significant negative impact on a patient’s quality of life, but are some conditions worse than others? A recent study sought to determine which chronic pain condition creates the biggest burden on patient quality of life.

Lead investigator Caroline Schaefer, MBA, and her Covance Market Access Services colleagues recognized that both fibromyalgia (FM) and chronic widespread pain (CWP) can greatly affect an individual’s quality of life. The team compared the two conditions to determine which one was more troublesome in multiple sections.

“Little information exists on the comparative patient and economic burden of chronic widespread pain (CWP) and fibromyalgia (FM) in the United States,” the authors wrote in PAIN Practice.

The research examined 472 patients — including 171 with FM,176 with CWP (CWP+), and 125 without either (CWP-). Participants filled out an online screening survey questioning clinical characteristics such as: pain, health status, functioning, sleep, healthcare resource use (HRU), productivity, and costs. They were examined by a physician as well.

The findings revealed that pain severity, interference with function, and overall work impairment were the highest in patients with FM followed by CWP+ and CWP-. Health status and sleep outcomes levels were the lowest in the FM group as well. In addition, more patients with FM (62.6%) compared to CWP+ (52.8%) reported taking medications to manage their pain. That number dipped to even lower for CWP- subjects (32.8%).

“Significant differences in total direct and indirect costs across the three groups were observed, with highest costs among FM subjects,” the study authors continued.

Therefore, not only were patients with FM found to have more daily interruptions due to their condition, but more of them used prescription drugs as a result and experienced higher health-related costs as well.

These noteworthy outcomes indicate that patients with FM have the greater burden when compared to their counterparts with widespread chronic pain.