Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a complex disorder, with primary symptoms of sleep disturbances, pain, and fatigue. FMS is one of the most common reasons for patient visits to a rheumatologist. Previous studies have suggested that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in patients with rheumatic diseases is common, but such data specific to FMS patients is limited.
The following study sought to describe the prevalence of CAM use in a primary care practice of patients with FMS and assess whether these patients discuss CAM use with their physician, physician-extender, and/or pharmacist.
A one-group cross-sectional survey design was implemented in a large, community-based, private physician practice of patients diagnosed with FMS. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed during clinic visits. It solicited information related to demographic characteristics; FMS-specific health background; whether CAM use had been discussed with a health care provider; and the “ever-use” of common types of CAM. Respondents returned the questionnaire via US mail in a postage-paid, self-addressed envelope.
A total of 115 surveys were distributed with 54 returned for analysis (47% completion rate). The sample was predominantly female, well educated and had a mean age of 55.6 years. All respondents were White. Most respondents (92.6%) reported using some type of CAM. Exercise (92.2%), chiropractic treatment (48.1%), lifestyle and diet (45.8%), relaxation therapy (44.9%), and dietary and herbal supplements (36.5%) were most commonly reported CAM therapies “ever-used” by respondents. Dietary and herbal supplements with the highest prevalence of “ever-use” were magnesium (19.2%), guaifenesin (11.5%), and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) (9.6%). Respondents most commonly discussed CAM with the clinic rheumatologist and the primary care physician (53.7% and 38.9%, respectively). Only 14.8% of respondents discussed CAM with a pharmacist. However, a significantly higher proportion of respondents who “ever-used” dietary and herbal supplements discussed CAM with a pharmacist compared to those who never used dietary and herbal supplements [chi square=6.03, p=0.014].
This pilot study suggests that CAM use is common in patients diagnosed with FMS. Compared to other healthcare providers, respondents were least likely to discuss CAM with a pharmacist. However, respondents who used dietary and herbal supplements were more likely to discuss CAM with a pharmacist compared to those who did not, suggesting the potential influence of pharmacist intervention.