Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened painful response to pressure, among other symptoms. It is an unfortunate but common condition suffered by those in a motor vehicle accident or other personal injuries.

The Canadian Medical Guidelines for Fibromyalgia were recently revised. These new changes will benefit personal injury claimants in two important ways:

1. Family physicians can now assess patients for fibromyalgia.

One of the common stresses of being in a motor vehicle accident is the need to consult with various doctors and experts. These appointments take up a lot of time and can be a challenge to attend. Sometimes simply seeing a specialist takes several months.

Previously a patient in Canada had to obtain a referral to a specialist to diagnose fibromyalgia. Now, their family physician can make the assessment. This earlier diagnosis means treatment can also be offered at a sooner point in time.

2. The Guidelines recommend non-pharmacologic treatments for fibromyalgia.

The Guidelines prioritize graded incremental activity over solely pharmacologic-based treatments. Under the Guidelines medical professionals are encouraged to prescribe prescription medication only as part of a larger treatment plan.

This is to the benefit of accident sufferers who prefer an alternative to a solely prescription based treatment. It also benefits accident sufferers who consult medical professionals who encouraged this form of treatment before it was formally adopted in the Guidelines.

Previously, lawyers for the insurer would point to a lack of a prescription-only treatment as evidence that a claimant was not suffering from pain. The credibility of that argument is now significantly reduced.