While it may seem counterintuitive, new research shows that younger patients with fibromyalgia have a poorer quality of life and worse symptoms compared to their older counterparts. The Mayo Clinic study was presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in late October, and shows that symptoms of fibromyalgia vary by age.
Patients under the age of 60 were more likely to have poorer physical symptoms and a worse quality of life. They were also more likely to be employed, unmarried, have an abuse history and higher education level, smoke, and have a lower body mass index.
The findings were surprising since quality of life and physical health is generally expected to get worse with age, according to Terry Oh, MD, a physician of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic.
The study included 978 patients with fibromyalgia who were categorized into young (under 39 years), middle aged (40-59 years) and older adults (60+ years). Regardless of age, all three groups had reduced quality of life compared to the average woman in the US. Dr. Oh also found that differences in physical health between fibromyalgia patients and the average woman were more pronounced than differences in mental health, especially in younger patients.
Other research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology showed that 7% of fibromyalgia patients suffer from rheumatic conditions, and that those patients don’t fare as well as those without rheumatic conditions. The research comes just as a new CDC report shows that rates of rheumatic arthritis and other arthritis conditions are increasing by 1 million people per year.
Young fibromyalgia patients report worse symptoms than older patients, study shows. Mayo Clinic. Press Release. October 28, 2013. https://www.mayoclinic.org/news2013-rst/7743.html