More ‘Murky Business’ – AP Report – A healthy dose of skepticism

From the Fibromyalgia FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton

Letter to the Editor of :

 Thursday, February 19, 2009 11:01 PM MST

The Feb. 9 Associated Press article on fibromyalgia in the Star-Tribune was appropriately skeptical of the existence of a disorder that is nonspecific, has no known underlying cause, and has no confirmatory diagnostic test.

Fibromyalgia has, for years, been a “trash basket” diagnosis. Despite this, there are now medications approved for the treatment of this vague disorder — medications that are not only expensive but have potentially serious side effects.

Patients with fatigue, aching bones along with muscular weakness and pain or discomfort are often misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or other nonspecific disorders. While there are no tests to confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, other conditions that may have similar symptoms should certainly be excluded before embarking on expensive and potentially dangerous and even ineffective drug therapy.

It is estimated that 40-60 percent of patients with “fibromyalgia” may have some component of vitamin D deficiency. Perhaps medications such as Cymbalta and Lyrica are appropriate for some individuals; however, a simple and relatively inexpensive blood test to rule out vitamin D deficiency should, at least, be considered before accepting a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia may or may not be a real disorder, but until more much-needed scientific evidence becomes available to define it and support it as a unique entity, we should maintain a healthy skepticism and look for alternative diagnoses with simpler, safer remedies.

Vitamin D deficiency is epidemic in the U.S. and treatment is safe, inexpensive, and effective — often with dramatic symptomatic improvement. Doesn’t it, therefore, make sense to exclude this easily diagnosed but often unrecognized condition before joining the estimated 40-60 percent of patients with “fibromyalgia” who really have something else?

JAMES A. MADDY, M.D., Casper

Readers’ Comments

oldmunchkin wrote on Feb 20, 2009 1:42 AM:
” Its obvious Dr. Maddy does not suffer from this painful disease! Neither do I, but I do have a good friend who does. You do not even want to know how bad she feels on a bad day, it would make you cry with sympathy pains. It is obvious Dr. Maddy is one of those doctors who feels, if it cannot be seen on an X-ray, MRI, CAT scan, or found through blood work, it must not exist as a disease
As to the “OMG…the side effects” statement, what rubbish when the disease is MUCH worse than the side effects. Furthermore, I take one of these “horrible” drugs for a condition it has been “approved” for. The side effects are NOTHING compared to the pain I was in before. ”

enlightenment wrote on Feb 20, 2009 12:24 PM:
” oldmunchkin – I did not come to same conclusion as you did from Dr. Maddy’s letter. Dr. Maddy did not say that people do not suffer from very painful symptoms. What he said is that these symptoms may be a result of a Vitamin D deficiency. You must not have read the letter very carefully. You should pass this info on to your friend. Maybe all she needs is Vitamin D.

Jennifer wrote on Feb 20, 2009 4:09 PM:
” Are you kidding me??? There is medical proof. MRI brain scans and spinal taps show abnormalities… obviously this doctor has NOT done is research or even done a simple Google search… I have been tested for vitamin D and my levels were great. ”

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About jeanne hambleton

Journalist-wordsmith, former reporter, columnist, film critic, editor, Town Clerk and then fibromite and eventer with 5 conferences done and dusted. Interested in all health and well being issues, passionate about research to find a cure and cause for fibromyalgia. Member LinkedIn. Worked for 4 years with FMA UK as Regional Coordinator for SW and SE,and Chair for FMS SAS the Sussex and Surrey FM umbrella charity and Chair Folly Pogs Fibromyalgia Research UK - finding funding for our "cause for a cure" and President and co ordinator of National FM Conferences. Just finished last national annual Fibromyalgia Conference Weekend. This was another success with speakers from the States . Next year's conference in Chichester Park Hotel, West Sussex, will be April 24/27 2015 and bookings are coming in from those who raved about the event every year. I am very busy but happy to produce articles for publication. News Editor of FMS Global News on line but a bit behind due to conference. A workaholic beyond redemption! The future - who knows? Open to offers with payment. Versatile and looking for a regular paid column - you call the tune and I will play the pipes.
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