Drivers who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia appear to have an elevated risk of being involved in motor vehicle crashes, even years after their initial diagnosis, research suggests.
A study in the July issue of the Journal of Rheumatology found that individuals with fibromyalgia had more than twice the risk of being in a serious automobile accident that sent them to a hospital emergency room, compared with the driving population as a whole.
“We’re not looking at the sort of fender-benders here,” said principal researcher Dr. Donald Redelmeier, a senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Toronto.
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that affects at least 400,000 Canadians, but the numbers may be much higher. The condition, which disrupts nerve function, causes fluctuating symptoms, such as muscle pain, fatigue, insomnia, and joint stiffness.
There is no known cure, but symptoms can be treated with medications, lifestyle changes and stress management. The exact cause is unknown, but in some cases, trauma caused by a motor vehicle accident has been linked to subsequent onset of symptoms.