Young and middle-aged fibromyalgia patients report worse symptoms than do older fibromyalgia patients, according to a new Mayo Clinic study.

Most people who suffer from fibromyalgia—which includes widespread musculoskeletal pain, along with fatigue, memory, sleep and mood issues—are female. Previous, unrelated studies have indicated that massage therapy, myofascial release and craniosacral therapy alleviate fibromyalgia patients’ pain.

For this study, Mayo researchers divided 978 fibromyalgia patients into three age groups: those 39 or younger, those 40 to 59, and those 60 or older. “The younger and middle-aged patients were likelier to be employed, unmarried, smokers and have a higher education level, lower body mass index, more abuse history and a shorter duration of fibromyalgia symptoms than older patients,” noted a press release.

The younger and middle-aged groups also presented with greater symptoms, as well as lower quality of life, including lessened vitality, mental health and social functioning. Anxiety was the only area in which younger fibromyalgia patients did not score lower than their older counterparts.

“The study’s findings were surprising, because quality of life and physical health are considered to be negatively associated with age,” said Terry Oh, M.D., senior author a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Related article: “Fibromyalgia Patients’ Increased Pain Sensitivity Studied.”

Related article: “Massage as Part of a Multidisciplinary Treatment Program for Fibromyalgia”