Monday, January 06, 2014

Chronic widespread pain, including fibromyalgia: a pathway for care developed by the British Pain Society

Chronic widespread pain (CWP), including fibromyalgia, is a highly prevalent condition with a range of disabling symptoms, both physical and psychological. The British Pain Society (BPS) is supporting the treatment of this group of patients through a care pathway and this article describes the rationale and discussion points relevant to the CWP and fibromyalgia pathway. There are several aims in producing this pathway: to reduce variation in the standards of care, to reduce delays at all stages of care, and in particular, to enable clinicians to help patients accept a diagnosis of CWP. This diagnosis should be based on the presence and distribution of symptoms in the absence of another defined pathological process: the features in the history or clinical examination are generally more important than laboratory investigations. There is an emphasis on addressing all aspects of symptomatology (physical, psychological, social, and personal needs) without an overemphasis on any one treatment modality. The pathway has focused on the potential pitfalls in the use of long-term opioids and the rationale is provided why these are not recommended. Patients with CWP value explanation and education and although clinicians may be unfamiliar with the condition, the majority of clinicians have generic skills in managing long-term conditions which can be supplemented by the interventions and actions detailed in this pathway.

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