Senate Hearing on Pain
Earlier this year, the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held the first ever senate hearing on pain. Sadly, most committee members were not present. Four doctors and one executive director of a nonprofit organization gave excellent expert testimonies, both verbal and written. Shortly before the hearing began, Jan Chambers from the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association submitted written testimony from Dr. Daniel Clauw. Those type of submissions may be mentioned in the final hearing record, when it is published and may be submitted by anyone, like you! In the meantime, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Life published the submission. I thought it brought up many great points that are worth sharing.
Clauw began by writing that after osteoarthritis (OA), fibromyalgia is the most common rheumatological condition. It makes me sad to think of how much more is know in the general public about OA than fibromyalgia. He suggested that 15-20% of those with fibromyalgia may be on long-term disability. Later Cluaw mentioned that there is an eight times higher risk of developing fibromyalgia as a first-degree relative (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) of someone with fibromyalgia.
The issue of lower National Institute of Health funding for fibromyalgia research was brought up and Clauw said it receives less that almost all other rheumatological disorders that are common. He points out that research in this area will help many, as 15-30% of people with OA, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and cancer develop fibromyalgia as well. This co-morbidity can have negative effects when not diagnosed/recognized due to the use of treatments like harsh medicines and surgeries that may offer little to no help. Treatments that may have helped someone with only arthritis or only an auto-immune condition may not work well for a patient who has fibromyalgia as well as those conditions. Clauw points outs that fibromyalgia is an overlapping condition to “virtually any chronic pain syndromes, as well as following cancer and is association with [military] deployment and especially traumatic brain injuries, vulvodynia, tension headaches and idiopathic low back pain.”
A large part of his testimony is focused on how the pain is felt in fibromyalgia and related conditions. For instance, he discussed how there is a higher sensitivity to pain in fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and Interstitial cystitis. Clauw also wrote about how peripheral nociceptive input could be playing a large role in pain in fibromyalgia, at least in a subset of patients. This means, if a co-morbid condition (like OA) was directly treated, fibromyalgia pain improved as well, for some patients. For more on these topics, please read the full magazine publication. You can see a recording of the hearing, Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief on the HELP website.
Do you find any of these facts shocking?