Recap: Dr. Oz Show on Fibromyalgia
This past Tuesday (July 23, 2013) the Dr. Oz Show featured a segment on fibromyalgia. If you missed it, you can watch the four-part video series on Dr. Oz’s Website. The title of the episode was "The Disease Doctors Miss Most: Fibromyalgia." On television, the FM segment lasted for 30 minutes, including commercials, which is actually a pretty long segment for that show.
Personally, I had mixed feelings about the program. It accomplished three things very well.
First, they used the word "disease" for fibromyalgia which immediately gives it more credibility. Then Dr. Oz and his guests, Dr. Jennifer Caudle and Dr. Sean Mackey, made it clear that FM is a very real physical illness with serious, life-altering symptoms.
Dr. Oz did a good visual demonstration that explained how something in our brains causes the pain signals to be turned on high, which results in excruciating pain throughout our bodies. Hopefully this helps people who have loved ones with FM to have a better understanding of what they are experiencing.
They urged people who have the symptoms of FM not to allow their doctors to brush them off but to keep looking until they find a doctor who takes them seriously and tries to help them.
Three things in the program surprised me.
Although Dr. Oz mentioned very quickly in passing that there are three FDA-approved drugs for treating FM, he did not discuss or even name any of them; nor did any of the doctors mention using any kind of medication as a treatment option.
The only treatment option that was focused on at all was osteopathic manipulation, which is something we rarely hear about in relation to FM. They had a doctor there demonstrating this technique on an FM patient.
Dr. Oz asked Dr. Caudle whether fibromyalgia is life-threatening. She responded "yes" but then went on to clarify that FM is not deadly but it does severely affect our quality of life. (I wasn’t surprised that FM threatens our quality of life - just that she answered “yes” to the life-threatening question.)
There was one statement in the show that I disagree with. Dr. Oz stated that it takes an average of three doctor visits to get a proper diagnosis of fibromyalgia. In my experience, most of us would have been thrilled to get a diagnosis in just three doctor visits! Thankfully, most people are now getting diagnosed much faster than the seven years it took me, but I still often hear of it taking many months and even a couple of years to get an accurate diagnosis. Perhaps he meant visiting three different doctors, but that’s not what he said; he clearly said "it takes an average of three doctor visits to get a proper diagnosis."
If you’ve had FM for awhile, you probably didn’t learn anything new from this program. And it certainly didn’t fulfill the promise in the promo that you would "Learn about the latest treatments and discoveries that could heal you." From that aspect, it was disappointing.
All things considered, though, I think it was good show. The reason I say that is that the Dr. Oz Show is seen by millions of people and his words have great impact. (When he mentions a product, stores sell out overnight.) In that respect, I think we’ll see that the show went a long way to help increase the understanding and acceptance of fibromyalgia, which will ultimately benefit all of us.
Karen is the co-founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association. She wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Pain Management.