What is the Prognosis for Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic and often lifelong condition. Because the underlying cause still becomes unknown the definitive therapy does not exist. Fibromyalgia can be mild or disabling, and the emotional toll can be substantial. However it varies from patient to patient and appropriate management can help substantially.

People with fibromyalgia experience greater psychological distress and a greater impact on quality of life than those with other conditions, such as chronic low back pain. About half of all patients have difficulty with routine daily activities, or are unable to perform them. An estimated 30 - 40% of patients have had to quit work or change jobs. Patients with either chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia are more likely to lose jobs, possessions, and support from friends and family than are people suffering from other conditions that cause fatigue.

Long-term Outlook

Outlook in Adults. Some studies show that fibromyalgia symptoms remain stable over the long term, while others report a better outlook, with 25 - 35% of patients reporting improvement in pain symptoms over time. Studies suggest that regular exercise improves the outlook. Those with a significant life crisis, or who are on disability, have a poorer outcome, as determined by improvements in the patients' ability to work, their own feelings about their condition, pain sensation, and levels of disturbed sleep, fatigue, and depression. Although the disease is lifelong, it does not get worse and is not fatal.

Outlook in Children. Children with fibromyalgia tend to have a better outlook than adults with the disorder. Several studies have reported that more than half of children with fibromyalgia recover in 2 - 3 years.

While medications are an important part of any fibromyalgia treatment plan, they are only a fraction of a total regimen. Research shows that people who are treated by a multidisciplinary team approach including: a physician to oversee the entire treatment plan and regulate medications; an alternative therapy expert who helps with an exercise plan and oversees cognitive behaviour therapy, massage, physical therapy treatments, etc; and a mental health expert who assists the patient with life style adjustments appropriate for living life successfully with a chronic pain condition, demonstrate the best treatment outcome. A person with fibromyalgia who is aggressive in learning self-management skills while working in conjunction with knowledgeable healthcare professionals, over time can experience significant improvement in their symptoms and quality of life. Developing an individualized self-management plan, from identifying effective treatment approaches to making necessary lifestyle changes, will help a person live successfully with fibromyalgia.

previous page ← FMS → continuation