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Keywords:

  • fibromyalgia characteristics;
  • Australian population

Abstract

Aim

To describe clinical characteristics of fibromyalgia in an Australian population.

Method

Data was collected from 150 consecutive patients with clinical features of fibromyalgia seen in an Australian public hospital clinic. Demographic information and clinical characteristics were recorded. Significant correlations between clinical characteristics were identified, then used in multiple regression analyses to identify factors influencing outcome in physical function, pain, fatigue and sleep disturbance. Clinical features in groups who were or were not using different treatment strategies were compared.

Results

Most patients were female and Caucasian. The majority reported a recognizable trigger factor and many had associated conditions, most commonly headache and irritable bowel syndrome. Physical function was significantly accounted for by pain levels (P = 0.001); pain score was significantly predicted by tenderness (P = 0.002) and physical function level (P = 0.001); fatigue levels were significantly influenced by age (P = 0.007) and sleep disturbance (P < 0.001), and sleep disturbance was significantly predicted by fatigue (P < 0.001). Just over one-third (34%) of patients were using fibromyalgia medications (low-dose tricyclic antidepressant, pregabalin or duloxetine); however, they had less anxiety (P = 0.006) and better reported physical function (P = 0.04) than those who were not. Less than half (43.6%) of the patients were regularly exercising; however, they had reduced overall illness impact scores (P = 0.004), better physical function (P = 0.01) and less fatigue (P = 0.03), anxiety (P = 0.02) and depressive features (P = 0.008) than non-exercisers.

Conclusion

Baseline clinical characteristics in this group were comparable to other study populations. The use of management modalities with proven benefit in fibromyalgia was limited; however, those patients who were engaged in regular exercise or using medication had better self-reported outcome measures than those who were not.