Blast from the Past

Back in the 1940s and 1950s there seemed to be more of a focus on the treatment of fibrositis (as fibromyalgia was known until someone objected to the implication of inflammation in the name) rather than on characterizing the condition, as the focus seems to be now.  Of course, some of the treatments are a little different, including Novocaine injections, which I think is brilliant, and they can inject me all they want.  There’s mention of a belladonna cream, which I will have to check out, and a B diethylaminoethyl dehydrocholate, which I’m not getting my eyes on except that maybe it’s some form of bile acid.  It’s only mentioned once in 1948 by one author who was going to do a trial of it with 200 fibro patients.  Can’t find the results of that trial…  There’s an isotonic glucose solution, massage therapy, neostigmine therapy (it’s an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor – um hmm), and much more.  Most articles simply say “treatment of fibrositis.”

Reading some of the descriptions of fibrositis maybe does indicate that formal characterization of the condition was necessary.  There seemed to be a strong connection in doctors’ minds between fibromyalgia and Dupuytren contraction, which is a problem with hands and the fingers pulling inwards.  However, since then it doesn’t look like there’s much of a correlation between the two, and Dupuytren can be corrected with surgery, I believe.  So, yes, sorting out what fibro is (as best is possible) was a good thing.  What I’m actually impressed with is the amount of the hey-let’s-fix-this attitude there is.  Not to say that doctors today aren’t interested in fixing the problem, but there is a distinct tendency to characterize the problem over and over again.  This looks like it may have started in earnest in the 80s, but it looks like the 70s was when there was a stress on management over treatment with a further emphasis that fibrositis, unlike arthritis, does not cause joint destruction.  As soon as that message becomes clear, then treatment options decline, and characterization takes the forefront.

Just an observation, and a very broad, generalized observation at that.  I’d love to see a little bit of a swing back.  We’ve characterized this condition to death now.  Let’s throw some crazy ideas out there about how to get rid of the sucker.

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