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Volume 404: debated on Thursday 8 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the range of services provided under the NHS to patients with fibromyalgia in Northern Ireland. [111329]

Patients suffering from fibromyalgia may experience a wide range of symptoms such as pain, fatigue, a tingling sensation in arms and legs, swelling in the joints, headaches, depression, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome. There is no specific diagnostic test or cure for this illness and I fully appreciate how this may lead to great distress and frustration for sufferers.As the symptoms in each sufferer vary greatly, patients receive treatment through a range of services in both the primary and secondary care settings. This may include access to rheumatology, neurology and mental health services. Management of the condition also involves self-help initiatives such as aerobic exercise programmes, relaxation therapy, and medication to treat symptoms such as painkillers or anti-depressants, and psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy.