“Poor sleep quality exacerbates fibromyalgia”


To mark the World Fibromyalgia Day on 12 May, iSleep interviewed João Eurico Fonseca, president of the Portuguese Society of Rheumatology. He considers that the “mechanisms related to pain and anxiety in fibromyalgia patients can generate poor sleep quality” and that in turn bad sleep “exacerbates the symptoms of the disease”. There are about 200 000 patients with fibromyalgia in Portugal.


Fibromyalgia patients often have restless sleep. Why?
The causes are not known with precision. Mechanisms related to pain and anxiety can generate poor sleep quality. Moreover, poor sleep quality is an etiological and aggravating factor of fibromyalgia.
Is rheumatology the key field of intervention in fibromyalgia or should there be a multidisciplinary approach instead?
It should be multidisciplinary, involving at least rheumatology, psychiatry and psychotherapy.

are the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia? Is diagnosis still complicated?
Diagnosis implies that other rheumatic diseases have been previously excluded and depends largely on the clinical history and physical examination. Clinical experience is critical in diagnosis.

It is often argued that the medical profession in general is not very sensitized for fibromyalgia. Is that still the case?
Less so today. But there is still some lack of sensitivity to the issue.
Are there currently many patients with fibromyalgia in Portugal? How many of them are women? According to the EpireumaPt study, sponsored by SPR, it affects 1.7% of the Portuguese population, mostly women.

How is it that fibromyalgia affects mostly women?
There is no exact explanation for this. Hormonal aspects and different levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin could contribute to it.

Is the European and global incidence of the disease in line with the Portuguese?
Yes, it is in line with the Portuguese.

How does the Portuguese Society of Rheumatology actualize the aim of fighting fibromyalgia?
The Portuguese Society of Rheumatology (SPR) provides information for patients on its website, it has created an award in pain research and it was responsible for the only study that determined the prevalence of fibromyalgia in Portugal. SPR is also supporting a national program to improve health care in the area of rheumatic diseases, which includes fibromyalgia.