By Ed Coghlan
Dr. Ginevra Liptan’s latest book on fibromyalgia was released this week. The Fibro Manual—A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide for You and Your Doctor is published by Random House.
Dr. Liptan, who has written for the National Pain Report, agreed to a short interview about fibromyalgia, which she first developed while she was in medical school, and her new book.
NATIONAL PAIN REPORT: “You are a physician who treats fibromyalgia and has fibromyalgia—how would you characterize the state of fibromyalgia treatment today?”
DR. LIPTAN: “Medical treatment of fibromyalgia has made huge progress in the past decade. When I was diagnosed in medical school 15 years ago, many doctors still questioned whether it was a “real” illness. These days, that issue has been put to bed and nearly every doctor these days does believe it is a real illness- however they still don’t know much about how to treat it effectively.”
NATIONAL PAIN REPORT: “We note in your upcoming book at the end of each chapter you provide the reader with things they can talk with his or her doctor about…do you think the physicians are better understanding how to recognize (and treat) fibromyalgia?”
DR. LIPTAN: “Physicians are definitely better able to recognize and diagnose fibromyalgia these days, but really lack any idea how to treat it beyond the 3 FDA-approved medications (Cymbalta, Savella and Lyrica). That is why I included topics for each chapter so patients could discuss new ideas with their doctors. And then I included a health care provider guide at the end of the book that patients can share with their physician as well.”
NATIONAL PAIN REPORT: “Why are women more prone to develop fibromyalgia than men?”
DR. LIPTAN: “The truth is that we don’t really know. It may have to do with differences in how men and women process pain signals in the brain, or may be because women are more likely to experience traumas like sexual assault in key periods of brain development in childhood and adolescence.”
NATIONAL PAIN REPORT: “That’s not to say that men and young people are immune, does it? You’ve said in the past that it tends to be underdiagnosed in men.”
DR. LIPTAN: “Fibromyalgia remains underdiagnosed in men, partly because men are less likely than women to go to the doctors, let alone talk to them about issues like pain or fatigue. It is a very common diagnosis in males who have experienced combat- nearly as common as PTSD. So within the Veterans Affairs and military healthcare system it is becoming a more common and recognized diagnosis, but in the civilian world doctors just don’t think about it when talking with male patients.”
NATIONAL PAIN REPORT:” Not enough restorative sleep, too much stress, not enough exercise, eating the wrong things—all contributors. If there’s one thing more important than the other for folks who are trying to address this?”
DR. LIPTAN: Sleep is by far the most important area, and this is where patients need to work most closely with their physicians. Unfortunately, most doctors- even sleep doctors- do not understand the importance of increasing restorative sleep in fibromyalgia. So patients will need to bring it up themselves, because improving sleep quality is the foundation for all other fibromyalgia treatments.”
Dr. Liptan founded the Frida Center for Fibromyalgia in Oregon and devotes her practice exclusively to fibromyalgia.
To order her book on Amazon, click here.
Follow her on Twitter: @drliptan