Man Undiagnosed

More research is needed, particularly on why men who reported FM symptoms were less likely than women to receive a FM diagnosis, says lead author of a recent study, Ann Vincent, M.D., medical director of Mayo Clinic‘s Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Clinic. “Health care providers may not think of this diagnosis when face to face with a male patient with musculoskeletal pain and fatigue,” Dr. Vincent says. “These findings need to be explored further.”

Researchers focused on Olmsted County, Minn., home to the comprehensive medical records pool known as the Rochester Epidemiology Project, and used two methods to try to discover the number of people over age 21 with FM.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first report of the rate at which FM is being diagnosed (or undiagnosed) in a community. This is also the first report of prevalence as assessed by the FM research survey criteria.

Firstly, they used the epidemiology project to identify just over 3,000 patients who looked like they might have FM: only a third had a documented FM diagnosis. That amounted to 1.1 per cent of the county’s population 21 and older.

In the second method, researchers randomly surveyed Olmsted County adults using the American College of Rheumatology‘s fibromyalgia research survey criteria. The criteria include the hallmarks of FM: widespread pain and tenderness, fatigue, feeling unrested after waking, problems with memory or thinking clearly and depression or anxiety, among other symptoms. Of the 830 who responded to the survey, 44, or 5.3 per cent, met those criteria, but only a dozen had been diagnosed with FM.

Based on the study’s findings, the researchers estimate that 6.4 per cent of people 21 and older in Olmsted County have FM—far more than have been officially diagnosed with it.

fibrommaleThe study found that the discrepancy between the number of people reporting FM symptoms and the number actually diagnosed with the condition was greatest among men. Twenty times more men appeared to have FM based on their survey response than had been diagnosed, while three times more women reported FM symptoms than were diagnosed.

“It is important to diagnose fibromyalgia because we have effective treatments for the disorder,” says co-author Daniel Clauw, M.D., director of the University of Michigan Health System Chronic Pain & Fatigue Research Center. Do we?