ROCHESTER, Minn. — People with fibromyalgia can have difficulty getting a definitive diagnosis and finding an effective treatment plan. For many patients, the condition involves a confounding array of symptoms, including chronic pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance and mood disorders. One factor associated with fibromyalgia symptoms is a patient's weight, according to a Mayo Clinic study published this month in "Arthritis Care & Research."
"We see an association between body mass index with symptom severity and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia," says study author Terry Oh, M.D., of Mayo Clinic's Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. "This was the first study to look at distinct groups of obese patients and determine how weight correlates with levels of symptoms and quality of life."
The study assessed body mass index (BMI) in 888 fibromyalgia patients seen at the Mayo Clinic Fibromyalgia Treatment Program in Rochester. Obesity (BMI greater than 29) was common in about half of the patients, and one-fourth were severely obese (BMI greater than 35). All patients studied completed questionnaires describing their symptoms and ability to function. Symptom severity was more pronounced as obesity increased. Overall, groups of patients with greater BMI reported more severe fibromyalgia-related symptoms and lower quality of life. Severely obese patients reported significantly higher pain scores than non-obese and overweight patients.