Major grant awarded to Penticton research team to treat Fibromyalgia patients

Major research grant awarded to Penticton research team to treat Fibromyalgia patients

Sixty-three-year-old Wayne Watson of Summerland is participating in a local research study that could improve his quality of life as he copes with fibromyalgia, a chronic illness.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that affects about two per cent of the population. It is characterized by diffuse body pains, fatigue, sleep disturbances, mood and cognitive changes.

The Canadian Rheumatology Association has provided more than $91,000 to a Penticton research team to study innovative ways to treat the incurable disease.

Watson was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 17 years ago.

“It feels like it’s barometric. Every time the weather changes it’s just like I’m getting crushed, the pressure changes and I get all these sore spots in areas. I feel very tired, lack of energy and I don’t sleep well,” Watson said.

Penticton rheumatologist Dr. Michelle Teo is heading the local research team.

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“What we were really hoping is…let’s find all of the areas that affect fibromyalgia patients and that includes the sleep, that includes exercise, includes diet, includes that tremendous feeling of isolation that these people feel and also that incredible sense of grief because their lives have been turned completely upside down,” she said on Monday.

Teo is partnering with UBC Okanagan to conduct a two year-long study with up to 70 patients from the Penticton-area.

“It is really important because otherwise we don’t have those opportunities to be innovative and to think about ways that we can change up the health services delivery,” assistant professor Dr. Nelly Oelke said.

The funding also kick starts a Medical Research Fund that is being established through the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen.

The Community Foundation says its creation of the new endowment fund will allow for more growth in locally planned and completed research.