Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 75–82

Characterization of fibromyalgia symptoms in patients 55–95 years old: a longitudinal study showing symptom persistence with suboptimal treatment

  • Sandra A. Jacobson
  • Rachel G. Simpson
  • Cheri Lubahn
  • Chengcheng Hu
  • Christine M. Belden
  • Kathryn J. Davis
  • Lisa R. Nicholson
  • Kathy E. Long
  • Tracy Osredkar
  • Dianne Lorton
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s40520-014-0238-7

Cite this article as:
Jacobson, S.A., Simpson, R.G., Lubahn, C. et al. Aging Clin Exp Res (2015) 27: 75. doi:10.1007/s40520-014-0238-7

Abstract

Background

Fibromyalgia (FM) has been understudied in the elderly population, a group with particular vulnerabilities to pain, reduced mobility, and sleep disruption.

Aims

To characterize FM symptoms and treatments in a cohort of older subjects examined over time to determine the extent to which current, community-based treatment for older FM patients is in accord with published guidelines, and effective in reducing symptoms.

Methods

A longitudinal, observational study of 51 subjects with FM (range 55–95 years) and 81 control subjects (58–95 years) performed at Banner Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City, AZ, USA. Serial history and examination data were obtained over a 6-year period. FM data included medical history, medications, physical examination, tender point examination, neuropsychological testing, sleep and pain ratings, the Physical Function Subscale of the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, and other standardized scales to evaluate depression and other psychiatric symptoms, and cognitive and functional impairment.

Results

Pain and stiffness that interfered with physical activity, sleep, and mood were reported by 80 % or more of subjects. Over time, pain involved an increasing number of body areas. Over half of subjects were treated with NSAIDs, one-quarter with opioids, and one-quarter with estrogen. Few were treated with dual-acting antidepressants or pregabalin.

Discussion

In this cohort of elders with suboptimally treated FM, substantial persistence of symptoms was seen over time. In general, recommended treatments were either not used or not tolerated.

Conclusions

Age-appropriate treatments as well as education of primary care providers are needed to improve treatment of FM in the older population.

Keywords

FibromyalgiaElderlyGeriatricTreatment

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra A. Jacobson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rachel G. Simpson
    • 2
  • Cheri Lubahn
    • 1
  • Chengcheng Hu
    • 3
  • Christine M. Belden
    • 1
  • Kathryn J. Davis
    • 1
  • Lisa R. Nicholson
    • 1
  • Kathy E. Long
    • 1
  • Tracy Osredkar
    • 1
  • Dianne Lorton
    • 4
  1. 1.Banner Sun Health Research InstituteSun CityUSA
  2. 2.University of Arizona College of Medicine-PhoenixPhoenixUSA
  3. 3.University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public HealthTucsonUSA
  4. 4.Initiative for Clinical and Translational Research, Department of PsychologyKent State UniversityKentUSA