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Body Map No Help in Telling Where It Hurts
When compared with other pain measures for fibromyalgia patients, text often works much better than illustrations.
By Nancy Walsh, MedPage Today
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TUESDAY, Nov. 8, 2011 (MedPage Today)— When patients who complain of fibromyalgia pain attempt to communicate which joints are painful, the reliance on body maps falls short, and, in fact, text often works better than illustrations, Canadian researchers said at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.
Patients had a more difficult time showing pain on the picture manikin than by simply ticking off on a list where they were experiencing pain, Peter Ste-Marie, BA, a researcher at the McGill Pain Centre of McGill University, Montreal, toldMedPage Today.
"A picture is not necessarily the best way to get information from patients," said Daniel Lewis, MD, lecturer at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. "We are trained to use our intellect in describing certain conditions, and a checkbox list may relate more to that than pictures."
Lewis toldMedPage Todaythat communication of pain with doctors is vital in order for fibromyalgia patients to receive proper medical treatment and that communication may be jeopardized because of long-standing bias — particularly among older physicians — about whether fibromyalgia represents a real disease or is a manifestation of a psychosomatic disorder.
He said that the use of body maps and checklists can help reduce the gap between patients and physicians.
Ste-Marie, in his poster presentation, said that he and his colleagues had first attempted to draw a manikin that would be easier for patients to use to describe areas of pain, but the simplified manikin and the standard body map proved to be essentially similar in use. "We found that just by using the list, it worked better."
Researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor are testing a combination of text and body map in one form, according to another presentation at the meeting. "The Michigan Body Map allows patient to note areas of chronic pain on a body map in a quantifiable manner," said Chad Brummett, MD, director of pain research in anesthesiology at the university.
"Body maps have been used for many years to assess the locations of pain complaints," he toldMedPage Todayat his poster presentation. "However, quantifying and analyzing these data have been challenging."
Brummett said he and his colleagues are involved in an ongoing study to evaluate the usefulness of the combination map and text in patients suspected of having fibromyalgia.
The body maps devised by Brummett and Ste-Marie are based on the 19 selected body areas considered in the American College of Rheumatology Survey Criteria for Fibromyalgia.
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