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complementary and alternative medicine, fibromyalgia syndrome, rheumatic disorder, self-management



  1. Menzies, Victoria PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC


Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), one of the most common rheumatic disorders, is estimated to affect up to 15 million people in the United States, 80% to 90% of whom are women. The syndrome is characterized by the presence of chronic widespread pain and various concurrent symptoms, which may include fatigue, cognitive disturbances (memory problems, difficulty concentrating, confusion), distressed mood (anxiety, depression), nonrestorative sleep, and muscular stiffness. Symptom management appears to be best addressed using a multimodal approach, with treatment strategies tailored to the individual. While medication may provide adequate symptom relief for some patients, experts generally recommend integrating both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic approaches. Some patients may benefit from the adjunctive use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities. Because symptom remission is rare and medication adverse effects can complicate symptom management, well-informed nursing care practices and patient education are essential. This article describes the existing treatment guidelines, discusses pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic approaches (including CAM-based modalities), and outlines nursing approaches aimed at enhancing patient self-management.