Fibromyalgia: Some Statistics

The American College of Rheumatology released some fascinating fibromyalgia statistics in the year 2004, adding to the body of knowledge about this little-known disease. It turns out that the disease is a great deal more prevalent than we'd thought-some 3-6 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. That's one in every fifty Americans.

80-90% of Fibromyalgia Sufferers are Women

Those one in fifty Americans with the disease tend to be women. The disease occurs seven times more often in women than in men and some 80-90 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers are women. A genetic component is suggested since the study shows that women who have fibromyalgia often had a family member diagnosed with the disease.

According to other data, fibromyalgia occurs along with other rheumatic diseases such as Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis 25-65 percent of the time. Diagnosis can take on average five years with 60 percent of fibromyalgia patients diagnosed in their 30s and 40s, another 35 percent diagnosed in their 20s or between the ages of 50-65.

Associated Health Problems

Fibromyalgia was found to be second only to osteoarthritis among the most common rheumatic ailments. A study released in 1999 by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, found the disease most often hits women of childbearing age, but other populations, such as men, senior citizens, and children can also get fibromyalgia. In 1999, the Fibromyalgia Network discovered that up to 90% of fibromyalgia patients have the jaw and facial sensitivity that mimics TMJD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction). They report that half of all fibromyalgia patients display sensitivity to odors, bright lights, noise, various foods, and medications.

Other findings associated with fibromyalgia indicate that adults who suffer with the illness are three to four times more likely to suffer from depression. Symptoms for many patients worsened with emotional stress, weather changes, strenuous activity, lethargy and physical injuries. Mental stress, worry and family conflicts we other elements that caused symptoms to worsen. There are at least 47 reported secondary causes of Fibromyalgia.

Causes of FM

This troublesome ailment has been very difficult to nail down in terms of cause. In a well documented study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control in 2009, it showed as many as 28 percent of children born to a parent with fibromyalgia will eventually develop the disease. This lends weight to the idea that it can be hereditary. Another interesting statistic indicates that more than 50 percent of people with fibromyalgia report a traumatic event as the place where the symptoms began. However, 40 percent of cases occur spontaneously, without apparent cause or trigger.

Israeli Study

A study in Israel from the Epidemiology Department and the Rheumatic Disease Unit of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva, tried to find a link between ethno cultural and educational differences to pain tolerance in Israeli women with fibromyalgia. Israeli women of Mediterranean extraction (Sephardic Jews) had a greater frequency and severity of symptoms as compared to the Israeli women of European extraction (Ashkenazi Jews). The older, Sephardic patients, many of whom were immigrants, had higher point counts than the Ashkenazi women, possessing lower thresholds for pain and reporting much higher levels of pain, stiffness, and fatigue. They also expressed dissatisfaction with their quality of life.

Education is Important

Sephardic women in the study who had higher levels of education commensurate with the women of an Ashkenazi background had a lower point count, more quality of life, and less pain and fatigue. The conclusion of the Israeli researchers is that education, rather than ethnic identity or clinical findings is an important factor in how fibromyalgia impacts on a woman's life. The researchers believe that future studies should include such educational and ethno cultural assessments in countries with high immigration rates and much multicultural diversity such as in the United States and in Canada. 


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