EULAR revised recommendations for the management of fibromyalgia

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Abstract

Objective

The original European League Against Rheumatism recommendations for managing fibromyalgia assessed evidence up to 2005. The paucity of studies meant that most recommendations were ‘expert opinion’.

Methods

A multidisciplinary group from 12 countries assessed evidence with a focus on systematic reviews and meta-analyses concerned with pharmacological/non-pharmacological management for fibromyalgia. A review, in May 2015, identified eligible publications and key outcomes assessed were pain, fatigue, sleep and daily functioning. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system was used for making recommendations.

Results

2979 titles were identified: from these 275 full papers were selected for review and 107 reviews (and/or meta-analyses) evaluated as eligible. Based on meta-analyses, the only ‘strong for’ therapy-based recommendation in the guidelines was exercise. Based on expert opinion, a graduated approach, the following four main stages are suggested underpinned by shared decision-making with patients. Initial management should involve patient education and focus on non-pharmacological therapies. In case of non-response, further therapies (all of which were evaluated as ‘weak for’ based on meta-analyses) should be tailored to the specific needs of the individual and may involve psychological therapies (for mood disorders and unhelpful coping strategies), pharmacotherapy (for severe pain or sleep disturbance) and/or a multimodal rehabilitation programme (for severe disability).

Conclusions

These recommendations are underpinned by high-quality reviews and meta-analyses. The size of effect for most treatments is relatively modest. We propose research priorities clarifying who will benefit from specific interventions, their effect in combination and organisation of healthcare systems to optimise outcome.

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