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Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal aches and chronic pain.

Fighting Fibromyalgia

Campus Center Targets Chronic Pain Through Research, Education Campaigns and Community Partnerships and Services

March 3, 2009

By Mimi Ko Cruz

At least 90,000 people in Orange County suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal aches, stiffness, soft tissue tenderness, general fatigue and sleep disturbances.

Fighting the illness by researching relief options is the goal of Cal State Fullerton’s Fibromyalgia Research and Education Center. Among its current projects is a study on how fibromyalgia affects social relationships and what strategies are used to manage day-to-day living.

“There is little formal research on such topics,” said Michele Mouttapa, assistant professor of health science and one of the study’s researchers. “Gathering this information will be helpful in determining the types of social support and symptom management that may be most beneficial for people with fibromyalgia.”

Other research being conducted by the center includes an online survey exploring the impact of fibromyalgia on physical function, psychosocial aspects of life, medical costs, employment status and work productivity; and identifying the use and effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs and other interventions, such as over-the-counter remedies, exercise, acupuncture and cognitive-behavioral strategies.

Another study is focused on the physical and cognitive status of people, ages 50 and older, with and without fibromyalgia.

Additionally, the center is developing assessment tools to measure the physical status of fibromyalgia-sufferers.

In the last two years, the campus center has garnered about $500,000 in grants for such research projects, said C. Jessie Jones, professor of health science and center director.

Jones said the federal government has designated the next 10 years as the “decade of pain control and research,” which is what the center promotes.

The Fibromyalgia Research and Education Center was created in 2007 with this mission: “To advance research, education and professional practice related to fibromyalgia. The center’s philosophy is based on an integrated approach to symptom management, including psychosocial and cognitive-behavioral strategies, stress management, physical activity interventions, balance and mobility training, nutrition and weight management, acupuncture and manual therapies and pharmacological therapies.”

The National Fibromyalgia Association has partnered with the center on various projects, including research, community outreach and education campaigns.

NFA officials and Jones said the center is providing hope and answers for those living with fibromyalgia.

“The main objective is to increase the number of trained specialists available to treat people with fibromyalgia and to improve care for them,” Jones said.

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