Fibromyalgia is common and adversely affects pain and fatigue perception in North Indian patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Varun Dhir, Able Lawrence, Amita Aggarwal, Ramnath Misra
Journal of Rheumatology 2009, 36 (11): 2443-8

OBJECTIVES: Fibromyalgia (FM) has been shown to be common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but studies on Asian patients are lacking. It remains unclear whether FM has an adverse influence on pain, fatigue, quality of life, and mood in these patients, and what its relationship is with disease activity. We studied prevalence and effects of FM in North Indian patients with RA and associations of RA with disease activity.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study included 200 RA patients and an equal number of controls. Presence of FM was defined using the American College of Rheumatology 1990 criteria. Pain and fatigue scores were assessed using a 10 cm visual analog scale. Quality of life and presence of depression/anxiety were determined using validated questionnaires. Disease activity and functional disability in RA patients was assessed using the Disease Activity Score 28-3 and Health Assessment Questionnaire, respectively.

RESULTS: FM was present in 15% of patients with RA compared to 2.5% of controls in the North Indian population. RA patients with FM did not differ from those without FM in terms of age, gender, current disease-modifying agents, or steroid use. RA patients with FM had higher disease activity and worse functional disability. The number of tender and swollen joints was higher in patients with FM, but correlated poorly with each other. RA patients with FM had higher pain and fatigue scores but were not different in the quality of life or mood.

CONCLUSION: FM is more common in North Indian patients with RA compared to controls. It adversely affects the pain and fatigue felt by RA patients. Disease activity and FM influence each other.

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