I’m Sharon Erdrich
PhD Researcher, Registered Nurse, Registered Nutritionist, Registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist
Helping Find Answers for Chronic Pain
My PhD is throught the Faculty of Medicine & Health Science, University of Sydney. I am honoured to be partnered in this project by three great people, who form my supervision team:
- Dr Joanna Harnett (University of Sydney)
- Dr Jason Hawrelak (University of Tasmania)
- Professor Stephen Myers (Southern Cross University)
Professor Rick Day (Rheumatologist) is an honorary advisor on the team.
Originally planned to take place in Australia, the advent of the global pandemic early 2020 forced a rethink and new strategy for the study. Ethical approval was sought from HDEC in New Zealand, and has been given. Sharon’s clinic in Mt Albert, Auckland, is the study centre.
The FIDGIT Study
Investigating Fibromyalgia, Digestion and the GastroIntestinal Tract
Our preliminary research demonstrated that 98% of people with fibromyalgia have at least one functional digestive disorder and many have more than one. We also found that almost study looking at markers of the gut microbiome revealed increased rates of dysfunction in fibromyalgia.
We aim to recruit 100 women with fibromyalgia and 100 controls. The link below will take you to our screening questionnaire.
We aim to match each study participant with a healthy female adult to form a control group. We’d like this to be a family member or co-habitant if possible. The link below will take you to our screening questionnaire.
Without a grant, crowdfunding is helping to cover some of the costs associated with this study. The link below will take you to our Australian crowdfunding page.
We need to raise just over $100 for every women in the study to meet some of the associated costs. The link below will take you to our New Zealand crowdfunding page.
Thank you for your donation!
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition with widespread body pain as it’s central feature. To date there is no defined cause and few effective treatment options. People suffering this condition commonly have fatigue, headaches, depression, bladder problems and digestive disturbances.
The high incidence of digestive problems in people with fibromyalgia is the reason for this research.
The stresses of living with chronic pain can only be appreciated by those that have experienced it. People with fibromyalgia say it feels like their body, their muscles, are broken. But they aren’t. Not knowing what drives it or how each day will pan out can be soul-destroying.
One study found that 98% of people with fibromyalgia have at least one functional digestive disorder. Irritable bowel syndrome is very common.
The rate of fibromyalgia in women is about 7x that of men, though results from studies do vary. One researcher suggests that men are simply less likely to get it diagnosed. This study is recruiting women only.
Fatigue without a cause gets in the way of living a normal life. Sleep is unrefreshing, exertion is exhausting. Is this connected to the pain or the gut? We want to know!
After conducting a thorough review of the literature, the conclusion was that while most of the studies investigating the microbiome in fibromyalgia found some aberration, they all looked at different indicators. I want to look at them all!
I started my health-focused career at the age of 17. Studying and working (on-the-job training) I became aware that whiel the medical system is fantastic at patching people up, it wasn’t so good at helping people acheive great health. I have explored a variety of other vocations, travelled extensively and have qualifications in nursing, naturopathy, herbal medicine, massage, aromatherapy and nutrition. I have taught student nurses, naturopaths/herbalists, massage therapists and nutritionist. I completed a nutrition-focused research project in men with prostate cancer at the University of Auckland, qualifying with a Master of Health Science with Honours in 2015. In 2019 I enrolled at the University of Sydney and am conducting this research as a part-time student, while running my clinical practice.
Who is supervising the study?
This study has been approved by the Health & Disability Ethics Committee (HDEC) of New Zealand. It is registered with the Australia & NZ Clinicial Trials Registry (ANZCTR).
What Happens in the Study?
We are running a large suite of tests, which requires samples of your blood, urine, breath and stool. Some tests can be done at home, and some will need to be done at the research centre.
If you are accepted onto the study, you will need to complete a detailed questionnaire. This is so we can assess a range of ways people are affected by fibromyalgia. The questionnaire can be done all at once, or in sections.
Once we have all the samples and questionnaire data, it will take time to analyse it. We will publicise the results – for example in medical journals and conferences and so on.