Cost Comparison of Painful Conditions

Fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome, a painful and costly condition that is becoming more widely recognized, was the subject of a study by Analysis Group Principal Howard Birnbaum, among others. Their study, "Employees with Fibromyalgia: Medical Comorbidity, Healthcare Costs, and Work Loss," published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (January 2008), identified specific, significant social and economic costs associated with FM. Little is known about the costs of FM relative to other painful, costly conditions such as osteoarthritis (OA). In their study, the authors examined such areas as the total direct costs (health care) as well as total indirect costs (work loss) associated with FM. They found that FM was equally as expensive as other painful conditions such as OA. They also determined costs associated with these conditions to be twice those of a control group that had never been diagnosed with FM. The study concludes that there is a significant employer burden associated with FM that is higher than that of controls and, to a lesser extent, than that of OA sufferers.

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