Dr. Michelle Teo

Penticton rheumatologist Dr. Michelle Teo is part of a local research team looking to help fibromyalgia patients deal with chronic pain. The Canadian Rheumatology Association has provided a $91,000 grant to the group.

A major research grant has helped bolster Penticton-based efforts to treat fibromyalgia patients struggling to deal with their pain.

The Canadian Rheumatology Association has provided more than $91,000 to a local research team headed by Penticton rheumatologist Dr. Michelle Teo and Dr. Nelly Oelke, an assistant professor at UBC-Okanagan.

The funding also helps promote a local medical research fund being established through the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen.

Fibromyalgia is 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.

Multi-component treatment is now being viewed by a growing number of specialists as being superior to drug treatments for pain.

“They’re developing a systemic team approach for treatment of fibromyalgia in the community,” said Dr. Tom Ashton, a retired Penticton cardiologist who is involved in the project. “People have pain all over their body and they don’t know what’s going on.”

In 2014, Teo and Oelke and other local clinicians and researchers launched a two-year pilot study in which people with fibromyalgia participated in a community-based, multi-disciplinary group intervention. A special fibromyalgia/chronic pain symposium drew an overflow crowd to the Shatford Centre in 2016.

However, since then, the fibromyalgia group has faced a lack of sufficient funding, until now.

In addition to the Canadian Rheumatology Association grant, a new endowment fund through the Community Foundation will provide another source of research revenue for future studies.

Some funding for the research committee has been provided through the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. However, creation of the new endowment fund at the Community Foundation will allow for more growth in locally planned and completed research.

“What’s most important is that everyone teams together to help alleviate the pain experienced by fibromyalgia sufferers,” SOS Medical Foundation executive director Carey Bornn said.

More details about the new endowment fund are available by contacting the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen at 250-493-9311 or email info@cfso.net.

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