Fibromyalgia: Comorbidity or a Psychosomatic Symptom of Depression Leading to the Abuse of Opioids?
Introduction: We conducted a retrospective study at the Wayne County Medical Examiner Office, which examined decedents diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a disorder of unknown etiology characterized by widespread chronic musculoskeletal pain, concomitant with fatigue, sleep disturbances, and psychological distress.
Material & Methods: Over a seventeen year period a total of 54 cases from our database met this criterion. Other criteria in the study included cause and manner of death, post-mortem toxicology results, major autopsy findings, and medical history.
Results: Our study revealed that the cause of death in approximately two-thirds of the cases was due to drug intoxication. The most frequent post-mortem toxicology finding was Opioids, such as Morphine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, and Codeine. The most common manner of death was accident. Almost 90% of the decedents were Caucasian females, which contrasted with the demographic diversity of Wayne County, Michigan. Additional findings revealed that the average age was 47 years, and the average Body Mass Index (BMI) could be categorized as obese. Nearly 67% of the cases had a medical history of depression.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that Fibromyalgia might be a psychosomatic symptom of depression rather than comorbidity. Therefore, physicians should further inquire about, and consider treating, depression in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain while completely avoiding the use of opioids, for opioids have a greater risk of being abused and resulting in death in such patients, as found in our study.