Fibromyalgia Glossary; Part 2

There's a lot of medical terminology used in relation to the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia. Educating yourself is one of the keys to getting a proper diagnosis and correct treatment, so it's important to know what the doctors are talking about.

This is Part Two of a six-part glossary that gives a plain-English overview of some of the most common terms you might come across during your fibro research or when talking to doctors.

Dopamine. This is a brain neurotransmitter that affects the way the central nervous system functions. Significant reduction in this type of neurotransmitter causes mobility problems and is often associated with Parkinson's disease.

Effectiveness. Medically, this is a precise term that determines the extent a certain treatment option works. Effectiveness of a specific treatment is calculated through trials, test and research. There are no estimates when determining effectiveness, although when it comes to the effectiveness of most fibromyalgia treatments, how well the treatment works is not recorded as a specific percentage. It's usually a range like 60 to 70 percent effective.

Effective Size SES (Standardized Effect Size). This is a calculation method to determine the effectiveness of a treatment option. It's often used during clinical trials, and determines the degree of improvement of a therapy after accounting for the placebo effect. Calculation of the effect size involves calculating a treatment ratio by subtracting the differences in the placebo group from the differences in the treatment group.

Efficacy. A term used to describe how much a patient will improve, under ideal circumstances, if they take a certain treatment.

EuroQol. This is a questionnaire doctors might ask a suspected fibromyalgia sufferer to fill in. The test, also called the EQ-5D, was developed by the EuroQol Group in 1990. The Group is a network of researchers from the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Norway and England. The test is designed to be easy to fill in by the patient and is used to determine the generic health-related quality of life in five areas:

· Anxiety/depression

· Pain/discomfort

· Mobility

· Usual activity

· Self care

The EQ-5D is a self-reporting questionnaire and is typically two pages with an optional page with demographic questions. An extended questionnaire is also available, but you likely won't need to fill one in since the longer survey tends to only be used for valuation studies.

Evidence Based Medicine (EBM). When looking into fibromyalgia treatment options, you might come across this term. It means that the strength and effectiveness of the treatment option has been carefully assessed and proven effective through patient-centered clinical research. There are four levels of patient-based studies typically used in EBM:

· Controlled trials (RCTs)

· Expert opinions

· Meta-study (The process of evaluating the results of numerous independent studies of the same problem.)

· Observational study

Fibro Fog. This is a condition experienced by most fibromyalgia sufferers. It's an extreme state of fatigue and listlessness that can cause short-term memory loss, confusion, and poor attention and concentration. Fibro fog, depending on the severity, can significantly negatively impact the daily functioning of a fibromyalgia sufferer.

Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ). This is survey doctors use to determine the impact fibromyalgia has on a sufferer's life or to assess a change in the status of the syndrome. It has been modified and updated frequently since it was first created in 1991. The most recent modification in 2009 consists of 21 physical function items. The doctor gives a score for each item to help determine severity. The score ranges from 0 to 100 with 100 being the worst case. Those who require specialized care have an average score of about 50.

Flare. The term used to describe the period of time symptoms are experienced and includes when the symptoms start, when they're the worst and when they slowly improve. When a fibro sufferer experiences a flare, it doesn't mean the symptoms are overall getting worse.


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