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Researchers launch study on dual Fibromyalgia treatment
Monday 11 March 2013
Researchers launch study on dual fibromyalgia treatment
UW researchers are working to improve the lives of people with fibromyalgia.
The Fibromyalgia Research Program at the UW is conducting a study to determine if combining two types of treatment can benefit patients who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder affecting approximately 4 million Americans.
People with the disorder often experience pain throughout their bodies, as well as mood ailments, such as depression and anxiety. There’s no known cure, but with more than 150 ways of treating the disorder, the researchers want to maximize the benefit of care for patients.
“We’re hoping to better the lives of people who have fibromyalgia,” said Caitlin Sheffels, the research study coordinator. “We’re hoping to reduce their pain as well as increase their ability to function with daily activities.”
In 2011, the program received a grant of nearly $5 million from the National Institutes of Health for the study.
Patients will be tested over the course of 15 weeks to determine the effectiveness of combining pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatment. They will receive either a placebo or tramadol, an FDA-approved drug used for treatment of moderate to severe pain.
The patients will then be treated with either cognitive behavioral therapy or health education.
“If we can, in fact, come up with a treatment that improves the quality of life of people who have this condition, that would be very gratifying,” said Dr. Dennis Turk, one of the researchers working on the study.
Turk is confident that combining pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments will help patients. He said studies have shown that tramadol is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia, though there hasn’t been a study that has compared the dual use of tramadol and a nonpharmacological treatment.
Though the program’s combination theory hasn’t been tested, Turk said one treatment isn’t enough. He added that 40 percent of patients see a 30 percent benefit from each treatment. But this leaves a lot of patients still experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Turk, who researches other chronic pain conditions, such as back pain and whiplash injuries, has studied fibromyalgia since 1996. He said he wants to do whatever he can to help those with the condition.
“Fibromyalgia is particularly interesting because it has so many co-occurring features,” he said. “It’s so prevalent, and we are so poor at handling it very well that the challenges are great, the opportunities are great, and the ability to potentially improve the function and quality of life of a large number of people makes this a target that I would find very interesting.”
Dr. James Robinson, another researcher involved in the study, is also eager to help improve the lives of people with the disorder.
“These patients are often quite desperate,” Robinson said. “There are many practitioners who will offer all sorts of strange therapies, and the patients — in my mind — are at risk to get inappropriate overtreatment. It’d be nice to know what we’re doing based on evidence.”
The Fibromyalgia Research Program is still looking for patients to participate in the study.
The above originally appeared here.
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