Young People Report Worse Fibromyalgia than Older Patients

Young People Report Worse Fibromyalgia than Older Patients

Young and middle-aged fibromyalgia patients report worse symptoms and a poorer quality of life than older patients, according to a new Mayo Clinic studythat suggests the disorder plays out differently among different age groups.

The research is being presented at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting in San Diego.

woman-with-headache1-178x300Fibromyalgia most often strikes women, and is characterized by deep tissue pain, fatigue, insomnia, memory and mood issues. About 5 million Americans suffer from the disorder.

Researchers studied nearly 1,000 fibromyalgia patients and divided them into three age groups: those 39 or younger, those 40 to 59, and those 60 or older.

“Among the three age groups of young, middle-aged and older, symptom severity and quality of life differs,” says senior author Terry Oh, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Although the younger and middle-aged patients had a shorter duration of fibromyalgia symptoms than older ones, the symptoms were more severe and had a bigger impact on their lives. That was surprising, because quality of life and physical health are considered to be negatively associated with old age, Dr. Oh said.

Jen Bond, who did not participate in the study, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia when she was 16-years old. She told National Pain Report her persistent leg pain was first thought of as “growing pains” until a rheumatologist diagnosed fibromyalgia in 2005.

“I hate having this illness. I had to be homeschooled my last two years of high school because my body couldn’t cope with the rigorous schedule of a normal school day. I have lost so many talents and skills because of this illness,” said Bond, adding that she can no longer play the piano or violin, and had to drop out of college because she couldn’t keep up with her assignments.

“This illness has robbed me of my confidence and self-esteem. I am now 24, still living with my parents, and unemployed. I have no idea what to do with my life because I can’t work and I don’t qualify for SSI (disability).”

Another fibromyalgia sufferer still in her teens says having the disorder at such a young age has given her “a horrible outlook on life.”

“I have dealt with these symptoms for 3 years now, and I am only 18. It has made college impossible,” she wrote to National Pain Report.

“I used to enjoy walks, and now I enjoy when I can simply get out of bed without losing my breath or falling. No one understands the pain, because it’s not something visible or widely known. Therefore, no one really cares. I’m afraid to think about how long I have left in me until I can’t do college or a career anymore. We need a cure NOW!!!!”

The Mayo Clinic researchers say women of all ages in the study had a lower quality of life compared to the general population, but the younger fibromyalgia patients had the lowest scores for mental and physical health. They recommend further studies on the impact of fibromyalgia on different age groups.

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

There are 9 comments for this article
  1. Nicole palo at 2:44 am

    I have to say I relate to all. Been taking opioids and morphine for almost12 years. My neck was broken for 4 years b4 a RN HELPED me. She is amazing!! Now as strange as it is bupronorphin is the only thing helping me now and boy does 1mg 4 x a day help. Its crazy how 10 years ago I would not of guessed I would b almost off all narcotics I would of laughed but now I’m only taking one pill every other day. Going to bed I dread cause all I want to do is keep moving. But yes It was harder to deal with the pain when I was younger, now I try to smile n hide the pain.

  2. Miki at 1:56 pm

    I’m 24 years old, female, and have had aspects of fibromyalgia since as far as I can remember. I also have a bunch of the stuff that comes with it (IBS, GERD, sleeping problems, migraines/tension headaches, etc) Possibly even since infancy, or at least early childhood. I found this helpful in the last part because I could relate to the experiences of the young women who discuss their difficulties with school and such. I’d like to find a way to contact them to tell them that there is hope of at least some quality of life, and that school can be worked through, even if it isn’t as well as other fellow students. I’m trying my best, and it’s really, really hard, but there is some hope. I still am struggling with making it to classes enough and grades sometimes, getting sick often and so forth. My pain can be excruciating at times and there are days where I wish I could just stay in bed. I’m emotionally and physically exhausted, but I still feel that there is hope. Years ago I was unable to work and today I can at least hold certain types of jobs, and I’m slowly but surely getting through school full time while working part time, I have solid social networks, and I’m still depressed sometimes, but my mood has boosted in many cases and I have experienced nowhere near the level of deep depression I felt several years ago. I want to share this with them so that they know that they too can eventually find ways of coping. I wish for them to be happy and as healthy as they can be… One day I hope that there is much more to help us all because this is a serious chronic illness and better treatments are needed. None of us deserve to have to endure pain everyday and struggle to have quality of life.

    If you have literally tried all different types of treatments and nothing has really helped, please contact the Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program at the Cleveland Clinic Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. They helped me. I don’t know if you can do it without insurance. I lost mine just as I got out of the program, but it was applied to before that because at the time I couldn’t go to college — I had to drop out. The hospital then removed my bills, but they do NOT normally do this, and their financial assistance program (ask about it!) doesn’t usually cover the program either. I hope some of you can still benefit from this. Anyway, I wish you all mild pain and other symptom days ahead.

  3. Christina at 8:18 am

    This is why there should be different levels of disabilities. People shouldn’t have to be in bad situations and the long wait of disabilities
    help.

  4. Toni Kresen at 9:12 am

    Mayo Clinic needs to throw away their study since it is NOT factual. I was diagnosed in January of 1992. Fibromyalgia became the first of many debilitating diseases I now have. I had to give up my flower gardening, hiking – especially uphill, and so much more as my Fibro pain worsened and worsened. I, too, can no longer walk even a block without a walker with a seat for me to use to rest and wait for the now higher pain to lower enough to continue walking. There was a time where I was able to not even have to use a cane most days and COULD walk longer than a block, but because of the government, as well as “Health Systems” and their doctors, I no longer can have ANY type of “QUALITY OF LIFE”.

    My former Primary Care Physician years ago had prescribed Vicodin for my varied pains. It worked wonderfully – for a while. However, when the low dosage of 5/500 stopped working instead of “upping” the dose he would switch me over to 5mg oxycodone (the oxycodone did work better). When that would stop working we could go back to the Vicodin since it was out of my system and would work again. This continued until I had to switch Health Systems. However, during that time I went back to college and opened my own computer repair and sales business. I, however, had to close it down even after downsizing. I had become ill with something whose diagnosis was elusive. Finally over 2 years later my gallbladder was removed at MY request. Gallbladder disease had been the new illness that had played a large part in forcing me to fully close my business because it had taken so long to get it taken out.

    I now live in constant pain levels of 7, 8, and 9 (out of 10) and at times do hit level 10. In my new “Health System”, it is being assumed I am some type of drug addict because of my requests for Vicodin or oxycodone. I had never abused it; I only used it for the lowering of all my various pains with one, of course, being Fibromyalgia.

    Doctors nowadays are afraid to write prescriptions for opioids and they will not believe me that Vicodin or oxycodone works for the lessening of my Fibro. “They” say it does NOT work to lessen Fibro pain. I KNOW it does and finally a PA in Urgent Care admitted there are rare cases where it does work to lessen the pain. He, however, would not help me either.

    So now my existence (since I cannot call it a “life”) is pain-filled. I go to my doctor appointments, do “my” once a month shopping, and if I find I’m having a slightly better day I may treat myself by going to Panera Bread or Starbucks to read. However, that “treat” is rare since I must take a shower the evening before any excursion of any kind. Once the shower is taken, and I do have a chair to sit on in the shower, all I am capable of doing is fall into bed from pain and exhaustion.

    My sleep is disrupted, I miss out on events, and I am almost always alone because the doctors of today refuse to believe me that the opioids did indeed help lower my pains so I could have a LIFE and not just EXIST. I am almost 54 years old and am supposed to still be in the prime of my life, but I’m not even allowed to have that. I truly have tried all the medications they say helps Fibro. Not only did they NOT work, but the side-effects themselves were debilitating and, in my case, they were dangerous to take.

    WHY will no doctor believe me? “I” exist inside this body and “I” know what works and what doesn’t. “They” have NEVER resided inside my body so they cannot in all honesty say that opioids do not work to lower MY Fibro pain as well as my many other pains. I want a LIFE back. I don’t want my future to be one of greater and greater pain until I have to be put into a nursing home at a young age.

    No matter the AGE of a person, no matter the GENDER of a person, Fibromyalgia is extremely painful with the pain rising throughout the years, and it is definitely debilitating. There MUST be documented proof that opioids DO help some people. I just cannot afford to purchase articles from journals meant for doctors. I truly would appreciate SOMEONE finding enough documentation on it so I can once again have some sort of a LIFE.

  5. Linda Sauer at 6:18 am

    All of my issues have bern addressed. I am replacing all hormones and working with 2 docs (pedatric endo for GH & a DO that understands hormones.) I do not hurt all over anymore.

    One doc tested my neurotransmitters and all are in the normal range which proves I do not need anti-deppressants. I have tried 20-25 types and they did nothing for me. This is a sign of Growth Hot,rmone deficiency. So many docs do not understand the stress of being in constant pain nor do they understand hormones.

    Do not blindly accept a FIBRO diagnosis. It’s an incomplete diagnosis at best. There is more going on.

  6. Linda Sauer at 6:10 am

    They ought to test every patient with fibro to see if they have any sub acute chronic infections and/or hormone issues. I got tested at one of the Fibro & Fatigue Clinics in 2006.

    First they did general health type labs: CBC, CMP, all hormones, and key vitamins. I was low in B12, vitamin D, and all hormones including growth hormone, hypothyroidism with high reverse T3 levels, adrenal insufficiency (secondary Addison’s disease.)

    The next time I went back they did an infection panel and picked up many positive bands for the Borrelia or the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. The doctor and I parted ways over this test. I should have NO positive bands to any of this bacteria unless I was infected after a tick bite. The first test was Quest and they did a more specific Igenix test. Both showed exposure to the bacteria.
    I also had a raging candida infection (high IgM antibodies), mycoplasma pnuemonia, low glutathione (amino acid associated with CFS), food allergies, hypercoagulation or too thick blood, CPN, sarcoidosis,

  7. ann higgins salo at 3:42 pm

    I beg to differ. I have spent a lifetime with FMS & CFIDS and other illnesses, I’m now 70. Yes, it waxes & wanes but it has definitely not been subsiding as I age. My career goals have not all been successfully achieved, I finally filed for divorce after 24 years because my husband didn’t believe how ill I was and wasn’t there for me or my 3 children. Family relationships were difficult because I was the one who was constantly told what I couldn’t do or that I somehow was being difficult because I wasn’t able to do all the things that they could. And you have to remember, that during those decades, FMS was not known. What I went through is nothing to which younger patients experience today. My life consisted of one test after another, surgeries, medical procedures, consultations with physicians & specialists, and counseling – “it was all in my head”- she suffers from depression & mood disorder – “go home & forget about it” – were constant themes. Yes, events are stressful during a lifetime that can trigger the flare-ups, but lets consider that this is not just a “disorder” but in fact a disease, which new research is indicating, a connection between the CNS and nerve pathology. Why would anyone come to the conclusion that only younger women experience the symptoms of FMS much more intensely.than older women?

  8. GypsyBlu at 2:04 pm

    I’ve had fibro for many many years.
    From my mid 20’s to now I am 50.
    The only difference between 20 and 50
    Is now that I’ve taken this pain for this long
    My body has built up some resistance. I can
    Now handle pain way more now than I could
    At 20.

    I do not feel being older has changed my
    Pain level. Ladies, and some men. Yes it
    Does get a bit better . But it’s time served
    That gives you that . Not your age.

  9. LarryK at 1:52 pm

    I’m a male, mine started when I was 28. I’m now 35. I’ve lost my career in the USAF, of which I was 10 years into. I had a post that I thoroughly enjoyed doing and, was good at it. We ended up losing my home. We ended up having to file for chapter 7. We ended up having to live with my wife’s parents for 4 years, with our 3 kids. There is so much I just can’t do anymore. I can’t snowboard, I can’t go full on mountain biking, I can barely play with the kids and I can’t even take a simple walk up the block and back. I had to fight for SSDI for over a year. They kept telling me to do a job I had to quit due to pain. Getting VA disability was even tough, as I didn’t get my diagnosis until this year.

    It has taken me years to come to grips with how I’m going to have to likely live the rest of my life. It is still a bleak outlook but, I’m trying to not think of the long term. I’m trying to only think of the here and now. I found out recently that my aunt has fibromyalgia as well. She said that her pain has faded over the years. I really hope that is the case but, mine has only gotten worse over the years. I used to not have sensitive skin. Now, the cold air feels like knives slicing my skin. On top of the pain I normally have.