A computer model identified four major classes of fibromyalgia on the basis of the pain and symptom severity felt by patients, the presence of specific coexisting conditions, and the use of clinical procedures, a study reports.
These findings support the idea that fibromyalgia is a spectrum of disease manifestations progressing over time, and underline the value of better characterizing this disease to provide improved and more individualized care to patients.
The study, “Characterizing classes of fibromyalgia within the continuum of central sensitization syndrome,” was published in the Journal of Pain Research.
Though chronic widespread pain and tenderness are accepted hallmarks of fibromyalgia, the disease has long been proposed as “a continuum of diseases rather than a single disease,” according to the authors of the study.
The significant variation in fibromyalgia symptoms from patient to patient makes it harder for doctors to diagnose and treat the disease.
One of the problems is the lack of a classification system for fibromyalgia that is based on a broad range of clinical and non-clinical variables. Recent studies have suggested that other factors beyond clinical manifestations are important to characterize the disease, including the number of healthcare resources needed by patients and how long they have been living with fibromyalgia.
Given that a better and broader understanding of this disease may improve its diagnosis and treatment, researchers aimed at providing “a first step toward systematically identifying and describing classes” of fibromyalgia.
To do this, they analyzed data from chronic pain patients with the goal of distinguishing and characterizing potential categories of fibromyalgia.