Evidence Shows Fibromyalgia Pain Is Real: Experts

MONDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The pain of fibromyalgia is real, and doctors need to take patients' complaints seriously, concludes a review paper by University of Michigan Health System doctors.

"It is time for us to move past the rhetoric about whether these conditions are real, and take these patients seriously as we endeavor to learn more about the causes and most effective treatments for these disorders," Richard E. Harris, research investigator in the division of rheumatology, department of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and a researcher at the U-M Health System's Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, said in a prepared statement.

Fibromyalgia is a debilitating pain syndrome that affects 2 percent to 4 percent of the population. However, the condition is often mistakenly diagnosed as arthritis or even a psychological issue, and many patients face questions about whether their condition is real, according to background information.

In their review, the U-M doctors said there is now "overwhelming data" that fibromyalgia is real. They said it's characterized by a lower pain threshold and is associated with genetic factors that can increase the risk of developing the condition.

The authors cited recent studies involving pain, genetics and brain activity, and said they hoped their findings would improve understanding and acceptance of fibromyalgia and related conditions.

The paper appears in the December issue of Current Pain and Headache Reports.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, November 2006

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