Trending Clinical Topics for November 2018

Ryan Syrek


November 30, 2018

Each week, we identify one top search term, speculate as to what caused its popularity, and provide an infographic on a related condition. If you have thoughts about what's trending and why, feel free to share them with us on Twitter or Facebook!

Trending Clinical Topic of the Week (November 24-30): Fibromyalgia

The first evidence supporting an increasingly popular theory, along with two separate studies on disease classification and patient relationships, resulted in this week's top trending clinical topic.

Researchers from the United States and Sweden recently reported the first evidence of inflammation in the brains of patients with fibromyalgia. Although brain inflammation was long suspected, the research is the first to demonstrate direct evidence of brain glial activation associated with fibromyalgia. The activation of glial cells releases inflammatory mediators believed to sensitize pain pathways, contributing to fatigue and other symptoms. This evidence may provide a pathway to treatments and lends support to patients who are frequently told that their symptoms are primarily psychological.

The perception of patients with fibromyalgia was the subject of a separate study. Katz and colleagues found that, despite having a negative reputation as frequent complainers, only about 14% of patients with fibromyalgia were actually considered difficult to deal with by rheumatology staff. Most patients (86.3%) were rated as moderate or easy to care for by rheumatologists and nurses. What's more, the patients valued the care they received. As the lead author, Robert Katz, MD, told Medscape Medical News, “It's not a psychological condition, as we rheumatologists know, and it's not the patient being crazy.”

A new piece published in the Journal of Pain Research separated fibromyalgia into distinct classes: regional fibromyalgia with classic symptoms; generalized fibromyalgia with increasing widespread pain and some additional symptoms; fibromyalgia with advanced and associated conditions; and fibromyalgia secondary to other conditions. Providing distinguishing characteristics may also lead to more precise treatment. Hopefully, the research that resulted in fibromyalgia becoming this week's top trending clinical topic leads to better patient care.

For more on fibromyalgia, read here.


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