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C. Jessie Jones

Pain Killer

C. Jessie Jones leads new center to help fight fibromyalgia and advance related research

April 2, 2007

By Mimi Ko Cruz

Constant fatigue, all-over body aches and unexplainable pain took hold of C. Jessie Jones more than a decade ago.

“After going to several physicians for a few years to determine what was causing my symptoms, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome by a rheumatologist in 1998,” Jones said. “Because there is no cure, I have treated my symptoms with a variety of things, including exercise, meditation, nutritional supplements and manual therapies. Most importantly, I have focused my energies on finding effective treatments and a possible cure instead of allowing negative thinking to drag me down.”

Today, the professor of health science and co-director of the university’s Center for Successful Aging is preparing to open the Fibromyalgia Research and Education Center on campus. The center will be dedicated to finding relief for sufferers of fibromyalgia and overlapping medical conditions through research and outreach services.

The center opens May 11 with Jones at the helm as its director. According to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), fibromyalgia, or FM, is a chronic pain illness characterized by widespread musculoskeletal aches, pain and stiffness, soft tissue tenderness, general fatigue and sleep disturbances. The most common sites of pain include the neck, back, shoulders, pelvic girdle and hands, but any body part can be affected by a range of symptoms of varying intensities that wax and wane over time. According to the Food and Drug Administration, FM affects about 10 million people, mostly women, in the United States.

“The research that will come out of the Fibromyalgia Research and Education Center will provide hope and answers for the millions of people living with chronic pain,” said Lynne Matallana, NFA founder and president. “Dr. Jones is an amazing woman who has dedicated her life and focused her energies on developing programs that will improve people’s lives. After years as a celebrated gerontologist specializing in exercise science for the aging, Dr. Jones has now expanded her work into research on the promotion of healthy, active lifestyles in the area of FM. Her desire to expand research efforts that will benefit people who suffer with the debilitating symptoms of FM will be realized as she becomes the director of the new center.”

As a partner of the center, the NFA and CSUF researchers have been working on various research and education projects, including:

-- A national epidemiological study of more than 2,500 people with FM. The $120,000 NFA funded study, “determined demographics and sources of information about fibromyalgia; FM symptoms and functionality, its perceived aggravating factors and perceived triggering events; diagnosis and healthcare utilization; and pain management strategies and medication use,” Jones said.

-- Research on developing assessment tools to measure fitness and balance performance
of women with FM.

-- Research on the effects of topical 024 essential oils on the frequency and intensity of exercise during a 12-week program for women with FM. Results from the $140,000 study, funded by SwissMedica, will be presented at the American College of Sports Medicine later this year.

-- A $120,000 proposed study, researching the effects of nutritional supplements on symptoms of people with FM.

“Current pharmacological therapies are often ineffective and people with FM tend to experience systemic drug sensitivities and intolerable adverse reactions, largely due to central sensitization,” Jones said.

“Therefore, investigating nutritional supplements —a non-pharmaceutical approach — for symptom management is critical, especially considering there are no nutritional guidelines by major professional organizations for people with FM,” she said. “This double-blind randomized clinical trial aims to evaluate the efficacy of using nutritional supplements in conjunction with a 12-week nutritional counseling program, emphasizing a low glycemic diet on body composition, physical function and other secondary factors in people with FM.”

In addition, Jones said, “we have been asked to collaborate on various FM research projects with faculty from Harvard, Yale, UCLA, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the Oregon Health and Sciences University and the University of Michigan.”

Also, Jones and colleagues recently submitted a $300,000 grant proposal for a three-year project to develop, market and evaluate an innovative Web-based training program for healthcare providers on the assessment and management of fibromyalgia and overlapping conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, irritable bowel syndrome and sleep disorders.

“The main objective is to increase the number of trained specialists available to treat people with FM and to improve care for them,” Jones said, adding that she expects to hear next month whether her FAME (Fibromyalgia Assessment, Management and Education) proposal will be granted by the UniHealth Foundation.

“Jessie’s work and the new center’s potential to attract research funding to address this debilitating problem is so important for the many people suffering from fibromyalgia,” said Roberta E. Rikli, dean of the College of Health & Human Development. “As a victim of this chronic condition herself and having been more successful than most in learning how to deal with it, Jessie brings special energy and ability to this new center.”

The soon-to-open Fibromyalgia Research and Education Center “will provide benefits for healthcare providers and persons with FM,” Jones said. “Persons with FM experience multiple, incapacitating symptoms.

Even though it is the second most common diagnosis in rheumatology clinics, many patients still go undiagnosed or are under-treated. Therefore, it is imperative that an educational program be developed so that healthcare providers will know how to diagnose and optimally treat persons with FM.”


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