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This week Fibromyalgia and our charity have been raised in the Westminster Parliament during questions to the relev… https://t.co/DTFZs999Rr

Response to BBC Panorama - The Trauma Industry

Panorama programmeFibromyalgia Association UK represents nearly 150 local support groups of people with fibromyalgia.

We were most surprised at the way fibromyalgia was represented in the above programme and the inaccuracies it contained. To say that it is a psychological condition was inaccurate and you are no doubt unaware of the research that currently proposes that it is a central nervous system disorder. Studies using Positron Emission Tomography (PET scans) and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy have shown  fundamental changes within the brain of fibromyalgia patients. Also there are increased amounts of a special chemical Substance P in fibromyalgia patients.
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made according to the well adopted American College of Rheumatology criteria on two main symptoms:
  • Widespread pain for more than 3 months together with
  • Pain in at least 11 out of 18 tender points sites when they are pressed
Although this is the usual route for diagnosis more recent research has shown significant physiological differences from the norm in people with fibromyalgia although these are not used in diagnosis..

In his annual report the Government’s Chief Medical officer Liam Donaldson recognised fibromyalgia as a significant problem “Up to 5% of the population are affected by chronic widespread pain of unknown cause, including diagnoses such as fibromyalgia."

There is a psychological aspect to fibromyalgia as living with constant pain can have a detrimental effect.

Amanda C de C Williams UCL Reader in Clinical Health Psychology

“To say that fibromyalgia is ‘just psychological' is to misunderstand the problem and pain in general. All pain has a psychological component as well as a physical reality, and trying to separate them is a serious misunderstanding of pain science. While we do not yet understand the origins of fibromyalgia, and it has demonstrable psychological correlates, and clear psychological consequences, to suggest that there is no more to be understood is scientifically naive and unhelpful for patients.”

In the film clip showing the fibromyalgia woman, it is implied by the solicitor that it is “not unusual” for claims to be fraudulent, but she does not point out that this means all claims, so it appears that fibromyalgia claims are particularly fraudulent. It is concerning that while the program was centred on PTSD, this clip about a person fraudulently claiming to have fibromyalgia was included. We would ask why a PTSD claimant was not used?

Many people with fibromyalgia have had to fight for years for recognition of their illness let alone for compensation when it has been relevant.  The fibromyalgia community feels that in a few minutes of this programme their cause to have fibromyalgia recognised in the medical, legal and benefit professions has been has been severely set back.

This programme has caused much anxiety and stress which usually exacerbates the symptoms of fibromyalgia. We would ask that you clarify your position on the editorial decision on how you were representing fibromyalgia.

Pam Stewart
FMA UK

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