Study Finds Drinking May Ease Fibromyalgia Pain, But Doctors Wary

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New Scottish research suggests that fibromyalgia sufferers who do moderate drinking have fewer chances that they will become disabled due to widespread chronic pain. But U.S specialist disagrees with this approach and they think consuming alcohol is not a good alternative to cope with the disabling pain. Dr. Lynn Webster, president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine was not involved in the research.

He said that it was a very odd idea to suggest that chronic pain can be treated. He said that I can’t believe that any doctor will recommend alcohol as a therapy. According to U.S 2 percent Americans suffer from the mysterious disease known as fibromyalgia that presents with the symptoms of chronic widespread pain. Women are seven times more affected then men and their symptoms also include sleep problems, memory issues and thinking abilities. Complex regional pain syndrome and arthritic conditions can also cause chronic widespread pain.

A study was conducted Professor Gary Macfarlane and Marcus Beasley of the University of Aberdeen’s Institute of Applied Health Sciences School of Medicine and Dentistry in Scotland and this study was published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research. In this study 2,200 adults in the United Kingdom were surveyed and it was found that 57 percent were women who suffered from chronic widespread pain.

They found out that those who had moderate to severe drinking were less likely to suffer from disability. They also found out that people who were drinking at least 35 units of alcohol per week were 67 times less likely to develop disability. It roughly consists of 15 to 20 glasses of wine per week. Low and moderate drinkers had better scores for physical function, ability to work, the number of work days missed, fatigue and pain, than people who abstained, it was seen in study conducted by Mayo Clinic and The University of Michigan.

Brain’s limbic system regulates feelings of happiness and pain. Alcohol can relieve pain by stimulating brain limbic system. But Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said that chronic and excessive alcohol can exaggerate your pain as well. Withdrawal from chronic drinking can also increase your pain sensitivity.

Manevitz, who subspecializes in pain disorders such as fibromyalgia noted that there is not any proof for cause and effect relationship between drinking and disability. He said only association between drinking and disability has been proved. Webster said that amount of alcohol affecting disability varies from one person to another. He said that even non drinker when drink a small amount of alcohol will become dizzy and his limbic system will be stimulated.

Manevitz agreed that it should not be assumed that alcohol have some medicinal affect. Its benefit to pain has not proved yet. It is poor idea to self medicate yourself with alcohol. He said that it can even exaggerate your pain. The Scottish researchers noted that large numbers of people were drinking above the recommended limit.

Webster suggested that fibromyalgia sufferers should go for other alternatives like exercise or watching a movie instead of alcohol. He concludes that it would be “unwise” to advise someone with pain problems to take a drink. Drinking alcohol to ease pain is questionable from another perspective: tolerance. If you drink a lot, you have to keep increasing how much you drink to achieve the same effect. This can lead to dependence, addiction and prolonged visits to alcohol treatment facilities.

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  • Study Finds Drinking May Ease Fibromyalgia Pain, But Doctors Wary .U.S. specialists say alcohol is the wrong approach. By Maureen Salamon, HealthDay News

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