An Army Sergeant With Mysterious Pain: Crack the Case

Christopher L. Tracy, MD


November 10, 2014

The Benefits of Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

The labeling of certain patients with chronic pain as having FMS has sparked debate that the diagnosis itself may cause worsening of the illness and healthcare utilization.[3] However, a 2002 study found that patients with a diagnosis exhibited a statistical improvement in their satisfaction with healthcare and fewer major and overall symptoms over a 36-month review.[3] No other differences in clinical status or use of health services occurred during the period of this study of 100 people with FMS and 76 controls.

A more recent investigation involving healthcare utilization of Department of Defense healthcare beneficiaries with FMS showed that FMS-related total costs increased by 93.5% between 2005 and 2010; for the same period, the national health expenditure rate for the US population increased by 27.9%.[4] Beneficiaries diagnosed with FMS paid $3557 on average in pharmacy costs, compared with $923 for all Department of Defense beneficiaries.[4] Although cause and effect are not established in this study, it is postulated that the higher spending by people with FMS may coincide with the advent of US Food and Drug Administration-approved medications for the illness.

According to a recent review published in JAMA, once a diagnosis is established, patients often find substantial relief.[1] These patients will require fewer referrals and will spend less on diagnostic tests seeking causes of the pain.[5]


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