A recent Arthritis Care & Research study of 2,239 individuals with conditions involving chronic widespread pain such as fibromyalgia revealed that those who consumed alcohol had lower levels of disability than those who never or rarely drank. Those who drank 21 to 35 units of alcohol per week were 67 per cent less likely than non-drinkers to experience disability. 

Dr Gary Macfarlane, co-author of the Arthritis Care & Research study, who is professor of epidemiology at the University of Aberdeen warned: “We cannot say that alcohol consumption causes less disability among people with chronic widespread pain. But the observed link warrants further investigation.” 

WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?

Fibromyalgia is a long-term (chronic) condition that causes widespread pain in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is thought to affect as many as one person in every 25. More women than men are affected and the condition varies a great deal from one person to another and from day to day. 

As well as pain, people who suffer with fibromyalgia may also suffer from other conditions such as:

  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • fatigue
  • muscle stiffness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • problems with memory and concentration
  • headaches
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  

Unlike arthritis, studies suggest that fibromyalgia is not degenerative or progressive and will not cause permanent damage to your muscles, bones or joints. 

DIAGNOSING FIBROMYALGIA

Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are often very similar to other conditions such as an underactive thyroid gland. 

There is also no specific test to diagnose fibromyalgia but blood tests will often be carried out primarily to rule out any other underlying conditions. A doctor may then look at whether the patient is suffering from fatigue, cognitive symptoms and has a history of pain that has lasted for three months or more. 

TREATMENT

There is no cure for fibromyalgia so the treatment available is to manage to the symptoms associated with the condition. 

Various types of medications can be used to help ease the pain and physiotherapy and occupational therapy can be used to help improve posture and relax muscles, as well as managing everyday tasks to ensure that the pain is managed on a daily basis.