Study Suggests Fibromyalgia Patients May Have Greater Risk of Self-Harm

Silvia Pittman,

What’s new: A new peer-reviewed study published early in the journal Arthritis Care & Research looked at the connection between self-harm and several rheumatological conditions. The results suggest that people with fibromyalgia are at a higher risk of self-harm while those who live with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis also have a higher risk.

Young woman outside in a field wearing a denim shirt and jacket looking at the ground with her face partially covered by long brown hair
  • Researchers investigated rates of self-harm among those diagnosed with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis using data previously collected from patients in the U.K.
  • Those with fibromyalgia were twice as likely to self-harm compared to those without the condition, while there was a significant but lower association of self-harm in those diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • There was no connection between self-harm risk and ankylosing spondylitis in this study
  • It’s important to note that there are often many factors that lead to self-harm, which this study didn’t take into account

Physicians need to be aware of the potential for self-harm in patients with rheumatological conditions, especially fibromyalgia, and offer appropriate support and management. — Sarfaroj Khan, Medscape 

The Frontlines: Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes widespread muscle pain and fatigue, among other symptoms, and it’s often misunderstood, misdiagnosed or dismissed by medical professionals.

  • There is no laboratory test to diagnose fibromyalgia, which can lead to many patients being misdiagnosed or having their symptoms labeled as “all in their head”
  • Fibromyalgia most commonly affects women, with the risk being twice as high as it is for men
  • Adults with fibromyalgia are over three times more likely to have clinical depression than adults without fibromyalgia. Depression also has a high association with self-injury
  • There’s also a significant overlap between experiencing trauma and fibromyalgia — trauma is believed to be one of the things that can trigger the illness. Keep in mind, not everyone with fibromyalgia has experienced trauma

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