A Short Guide to Fibromyalgia

By Daniel J. Wallace; Janice Brock Wallace | Go to book overview

2
Who Gets Fibromyalgia
and Why?

HOW PREVALENT IS FIBROMYALGIA?

Until recently, nobody knew how many people had fibromyalgia. Sev⁃ eral surveys suggest that while 2 percent of the adult U.S. population have full-blown fibromyalgia (3.5 percent of adult women and 0.5 percent of adult men), 11 percent have chronic widespread pain and 20 percent have chronic regional pain. Recently, Dr. Larry Bradley at the University of Alabama has found that for every diagnosed fibromyalgia patient in the United States, there is an undiagnosed individual who has the requisite tender points, but never seeks medical attention for this. This has been termed community fibromyalgia. A survey in Great Britain found that 13 percent of the population had chronic widespread pain, 72 percent of whom sought medical attention for it. Of those, 21 percent fulfilled the ACR criteria for fibromyalgia. In other words, of individuals with chronic neuromuscular pain, less than half have diag⁃ nosed fibromyalgia or community fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is the third or fourth most common reason for con⁃ sulting a rheumatologist. Approximately 15–20 percent of all patients seeking rheumatology referrals have fibromyalgia. The 5,000 rheuma⁃ tologists in the United States who are trained in internal medicine and subspecialize in managing more than 150 musculoskeletal and immune system disorders are very familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia.


WHO DEVELOPS FIBROMYALGIA?

Even though 1 American in 50 has fibromyalgia, the syndrome is dis⁃ tributed unevenly across the population, meaning 80–90 percent of patients with the condition are women. (One theory contends that women

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