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June 1995

Fibromyalgia Is Common in a Postpoliomyelitis Clinic

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec.

Arch Neurol. 1995;52(6):620-624. doi:10.1001/archneur.1995.00540300094019

Objective:  To determine prospectively the occurrence and clinical characteristics of fibromyalgia in patients serially presenting to a postpolio clinic. Fibromyalgia may mimic some of the symptoms of postpoliomyelitis syndrome, a disorder characterized by new weakness, fatigue, and pain decades after paralytic poliomyelitis.

Design:  Case series.

Setting:  A university-affiliated hospital clinic.

Patients:  One hundred five patients were evaluated with a standardized history and physical examination during an 18-month period. Ten patients were excluded because of the absence of past paralytic poliomyelitis.

Interventions:  Patients with fibromyalgia were treated with low-dose, nighttime amitriptyline hydrochloride or other conservative measures.

Main Outcome Measures:  Patients with fibromyalgia had diffuse pain and 11 or more of 18 specific tender points on examination (American College of Rheumatology criteria, 1990). Patients with borderline fibromyalgia had muscle pain and five to 10 tender points on physical examination.

Results:  Ten (10.5%) of 95 postpolio patients met the criteria for fibromyalgia, and another 10 patients had borderline fibromyalgia. All patients with fibromyalgia complained of new weakness, fatigue, and pain. Patients with fibromyalgia were more likely than patients without fibromylagia to be female (80% vs 40%, P<.04) and to complain of generalized fatigue (100% vs 71%, P=.057), but were not distinguishable in terms of age at presentation to clinic, age at polio, length of time since polio, physical activity, weakness at polio, motor strength scores on examination, and the presence of new weakness, muscle fatigue, or joint pain. Approximately 50% of patients in both the fibromyalgia and borderline fibromyalgia groups responded to low-dose, nighttime amitriptyline therapy.

Conclusions:  (1) Fibromyalgia occurs frequently in a postpolio clinic. (2) Fibromyalgia can mimic some symptoms of postpoliomyelitis syndrome. (3) Fibromyalgia in postpolio patients can respond to specific treatment.

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