Fibromyalgia: Does CAM Work?

Desiree A. Lie, MD, MSEd


April 25, 2012

In This Article

The Patient With Pain and Poor Sleep

Mrs. Smith is a 45-year-old woman who was diagnosed 3 years ago with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). She has persistent symptoms of chronic pain with varying tenderness in 12-15 areas, without synovitis and hyperalgesia. The symptoms negatively affect her daily functioning at work as a research assistant and at home as the mother of a 10-year-old child. She is easily fatigued yet has difficulty sleeping at night and is unrefreshed upon waking, leading to poor work productivity and daytime somnolence. She reports feelings of anxiety and depression. She has tried anti-inflammatory medications and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), with minimal improvement in function over time.

Her husband also works and is supportive of her need for rest and pain management. Her sister and an aunt had similar symptoms and currently function poorly. Mrs. Smith would like to try some new treatments and to be referred for acupuncture for her pain, as she has heard positive reports about the role of acupuncture in pain syndromes.

  1. What symptoms and history confirm the diagnosis of FMS in Mrs. Smith?

  2. What pharmacotherapies are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and what other supportive therapies are used by patients with FMS?

  3. What is the current evidence for efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies used by patients with FMS?