American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting

American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting

November 12, 2013
4 min watch

Earlier symptoms predicted fibromyalgia in elderly women

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SAN DIEGO — The number and severity of symptoms measured 17 years before diagnoses were predictive of fibromyalgia in elderly women, according to research presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting.

Brian Walitt, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, Georgetown University, and attending physician, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC, and a co-researcher studied about 1,000 postmenopausal women (mean age, 78.4 years) who were part of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). Patients answered questionnaires based on 2010 ACR fibromyalgia criteria.

Researchers found a fibromyalgia prevalence of 6.6% (95% CI, 4.9-8.2) among the patients, which was higher than the expected rate of 2% to 4% among the general population, Walitt said.

At baseline during WHI enrollment — 17 years before questionnaires were completed — patients’ symptoms were measured.

“What we found was that symptoms 17 years prior are very predictive of having fibromyalgia later,” Walitt told

Pain, neck pain, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue and overall health were the most predictive symptoms of having future fibromyalgia, according to multivariate analysis.

When patients who had fibromyalgia at baseline were removed, “the number and the severity of symptoms at baseline can be powerfully predictive of future fibromyalgia 17 years later even when you did not have that at baseline,” Walitt said. “Symptoms predict future symptoms.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

For more information:

Walitt BT. #131: Prevalence and Antecedents of Fibromyalgia in Elderly Women. Presented at: the 2013 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting; Oct. 26-30, San Diego.