Forget the roses and the bottle of wine. When it comes to romance, fibromyalgia is a buzz killer.
A new survey of fibromyalgia patients has found that well over half believe that chronic pain has significantly harmed their romantic relationships.
The survey of 1,228 adults in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia found that pain was having a widespread impact on their social life, home life, work and school attendance, and exercise habits.
Pain also took a big toll on romance. Nearly 70 percent said fibromyalgia pain has affected their physical intimacy with a partner or spouse. And over half (55%) said fibromyalgia had negatively impacted their romantic relationships in some way.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that 5 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia, a poorly understood disorder characterized by chronic deep tissue pain, fatigue, headaches, depression and lack of sleep.
“Fibromyalgia has long been misunderstood, as it is a complicated disease with many different symptoms, and as a patient, I have understood the importance of differentiating between the symptoms and recognizing the impact that just one symptom – like pain – can have on your life,” said Jan Chambers, president of the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA).
“This survey is important for the fibromyalgia community as it underscores the need for more effective dialogue between patients and their HCPs (health care practitioners), specifically focusing on pain management, including lifestyle changes that can make a difference.”
The survey, called Functioning with Fibro, was funded by Pfizer Inc., and was conducted in collaboration with NFMCPA and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
On average, the survey found that fibromyalgia patients had more bad days than good, with the number of “flare up” days exceeding the good ones in a typical week. Daily activities most affected by fibromyalgia were sleep (71%), exercise (70%) and the ability to do household chores (60%).
Fibromyalgia patients who work missed an average of 3 weeks of work annually (versus only 3 sick days for the average American). They were late for work an additional nine days. About a third said their professional relationships were adversely affected by fibromyalgia.
Other key findings:
- 85% said pain was the #1 symptom impacting their daily life.
- 85% said they had missed important events in their life, including holidays, birthdays, vacations, and social engagements.
- 72% say they are hesitant to plan social activities out of fear they’ll have to cancel.
- 54% say it’s had a negative impact on their friendships.
- 48% say it’s had a negative impact on their family life.
Fibromyalgia patients were very proactive about their treatment. Nearly half said they were currently discussing with their health care practitioner ways to improve day-to-day life. And nearly all (97%) had done something to improve their ability to live with pain, including minimizing stressful situations and setting more limits.
The Functioning with Fibro survey was conducted August 9 – 23, 2013, using an email invitation and an online survey.