It’s a Wrap – Top Blog Posts in 2013

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 30, 2013

The blog team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is wrapping up 2013 with a selection of our most popular posts.  We’d also love to hear from you – what blog topics would you like to see in 2014?

We wish you a safe, happy New Year and thank you for your support.


Face Transplant Recipient Focuses on Her Gifts

Carmen Tarleton, got a new start on life when she became the fifth BWH patient to receive a face transplant. A team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and others worked for 15 hours to complete the surgery. Carmen’s story demonstrates how the generosity of neighbors, friends, and strangers can restore hope and healing.


Morning Heart Attacks: Blame It on Your Body Clock

Have you ever wondered why most heart attacks occur in the morning?  According to recent research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Oregon Health & Science University, you can probably place some of the blame on your body clock which drives day/night variations in a protein known to be a risk factor for heart attacks and ischemic strokes.

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Fibromyalgia: Aching for Pain Relief

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 19, 2013

Fibromyalgia patients usually experience widespread pain and discomfort.

Today’s post is written by Dr. Edgar Ross, Director of the Pain Management Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).  The post was adapted from an article that appeared in the September issue of the newsletter published by the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at BWH.

Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood syndrome that is quite common but can be difficult to diagnose and treat. The symptoms of fibromyalgia include widespread soft tissue pain, disturbed sleep, fatigue, and characteristic tender points that are multiple and  diffuse. Conditions such as migraine headaches, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, restless legs syndrome, and temporal mandibular joint dysfunction are often associated with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia patients usually experience widespread pain and discomfort.

The processes within our bodies that can produce symptoms of fibromyalgia are not well understood. The leading theory suggests that the origins of fibromyalgia may relate to an over-reaction of the central nervous system to all types of sensation. These disturbances can have an impact on sleep. Sleep studies of patients with fibromyalgia frequently identify a lack of restful sleep.

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose because the signs and symptoms in patients can vary from visit to visit. In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology published a list of tender points that can be used to establish the diagnosis. Though laboratory testing is not useful for making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, it can help rule out other conditions that mimic this condition.

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Mindfulness Meditation Helps Fibromyalgia Patients

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 20, 2013


Research indicates that meditation may be helpful for people suffering from fibromyalgia (chronic pain syndrome).

Mindfulness meditation is a state of awareness in which one remains non-judgmental and non-reactive towards one’s own thoughts and emotions from moment to moment. Research indicates it may lead to changes in the brain that provide health benefits, particularly for people suffering from fibromyalgia (chronic pain syndrome).  These patients live with musculoskeletal pain and fatigue on a daily basis.  As a result, they often avoid pain-related threats and dwell on thoughts of pain, making it harder to cope with their illness.

In a study of female fibromyalgia patients who practiced mindfulness meditation, Dr. David Vago, a cognitive neuroscientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), found that after eight weeks of mindfulness meditation training, patients were less likely to avoid pain-related words and were less distracted by such words when performing attention-demanding tasks.  In other words, they were more likely to engage with their pain and had fewer tendencies to dwell on such thoughts after completion of the study.  While fibromyalgia patients who meditated still sensed their pain, they were able to manage their emotional responses more effectively.

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