Quality management is required in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia and MCS

There is a connection between fibromyalgia and MCS confirmed by studies. Patients suffering with fibromyalgia (FM) have reported frequent complaints which are outside of their problem area of the musculoskeletal system, and chemically sensitive patients, in addition to their reactions to low doses of chemicals, repeatedly experience pain in different body regions. Fibromyalgia is commonly regarded as an atypical soft-tissue rheumatism. The diagnosis is made mainly by an examination of 18 pressure sensitive parts of the body, called tender points. Scientists from Scandinavia reported more than ten years ago that there is an overlap between MCS and fibromyalgia, which has major relevance for the medical diagnosis for patients. A recent Canadian study in February 2010 confirmed this result. The authors of this study, in a medical journal, appealed for adequate education and specific related information in the health field and to the public in order to improve the prognosis for patients.

Pain on pain

Patients with fibromyalgia or chemical sensitivity often experience pain which they describe as a “toothache all over the body.” Scientists from Scandinavia reported in the late nineties of the existing relationship between these two diseases.

What exists for fibromyalgia patients also exists for MCS patients?

The objective of a pilot university rheumatology study was to determine how often MCS occurs in patients with Fibromyalgia. The research team designed a questionnaire decided whether the patients indeed also had MCS. The physicians used criteria from a new study by using an immunological profile of patients who could be identified with this disease. Patients responded with a yes or no response to confirm the presence of 48 FM-related symptoms. (1)

Study finds link between MCS and FMS

The results of the study were published in the first half of 1997 in the medical journal, “Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology.” Thirty-three of the 60 patients with fibromyalgia fulfilled the criteria for MCS. Eleven of those patients met more restrictive criteria, which demonstrated the high severity of chemical sensitivity. In addition, scientists found that the sensitivity symptoms and reactions of the triggering substances that were most frequently cited by the FM patients were similar to those reported by MCS patients in other studies. A chemical sensitivity existed in more than half the patients with fibromyalgia, thus the Scandinavian researchers concluded that MCS may be an additional symptom in the complex spectrum of fibromyalgia.

Canadian study confirmed the simultaneous existence of MCS and FMS

The fact that both conditions exist simultaneously has been affirmed by studies in recent years. The targeted diagnosis should be considered because of the potentially dramatic effects on the sufferers of MCS and FMS. This was evident in a study of the environmental clinic (EHC) in Toronto. The Canadian researchers studied 128 patients for the presence of MCS, CFS, and FMS, and identified the impacts in their everyday lives. Eight of the 70 patients received the MCS, CFS, or FM diagnosis, while the remaining patients had two or three overlapping diagnoses. What a great impact in the study of environmental disease for patients and readers of the magazine for Canadian GP, in the February 2010 edition. Most of the study participants (68%) had to leave work, on the average of three years after the onset of their symptoms due to their illness. (2)

Relevance for the diagnosis of environmental and mainstream medicine

The studies of 1997 and early 2010 reveal that medical practices must take a thorough medical history of the patient and make an appropriate diagnosis at the onset of one of these two diseases of FM or MCS. After the clinical results indicate a patient has MCS, then there needs to be a clarification whether or not the patient also has fibromyalgia. This can be detected with little effort by any doctor by checking the 18 tender points. At the same time, fibromyalgia patients must be asked about a hypersensitivity to chemicals which is likely, despite the lack of the study results being integrated into mainstream medicine over the last ten years. It is extremely important for rheumatologists to be familiar with the diagnosis of MCS for their FM patients. The prognosis for fibromyalgia patients significant improvement could be then specifically targeted with treatments and appropriate prevention strategies which deal with the triggering affects of chemicals.

Author: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, August 2010

Translation: Thank you to Christi Howarth.

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