Mayo Clinic Study Links Obesity to Fibromyalgia

Mayo Clinic Study Links Obesity to Fibromyalgia

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic say obese people are at greater risk for fibromyalgia and are more likely to suffer from severe symptoms. Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder characterized by chronic pain, muscle soreness, fatigue, moodiness and sleep disorders.

“We see an association between body mass index with symptom severity and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia,” says study author Terry Oh, MD, of the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “This was the first study to look at distinct groups of obese patients and determine how weight correlates with levels of symptoms and quality of life.”

Researchers studied the body mass index (BMI) of 888 fibromyalgia patients at the Mayo Clinic’s Fibromyalgia Treatment Program in Rochester,Minnesota. Obesity (a BMI greater than 29) was common in about half of the patients and one-fourth were severely obese (a BMI greater than 35). The severity of fibromyalgia symptoms was more pronounced in overweight patients and they also reported a poorer quality of life. Severely obese patients had significantly higher pain scores than non-obese and overweight patients.

About 5 percent of Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. Ninety percent of those with the condition are women. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but symptoms can be eased through medication, exercise and relaxation techniques.

Although a cause and effect relationship has not been established between obesity and fibromyalgia, a higher rate of obesity in those who have fibromyalgia may be caused by increased disability and a lack of physical inactivity.

“BMI has already been singled out as an independent risk factor for fibromyalgia,” said Dr. Oh. “Our results underscore the importance of incorporating weight management strategies in treatment programs for fibromyalgia patients.”

Two other recent studies have linked obesity to lower back pain and to higher rates of pain among obese individuals. The Mayo Clinic study was published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor