Many Cases of Fibromyalgia Still Go Undiagnosed – Especially in Men

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • A new Mayo Clinic study suggests that many people, especially men, may have fibromyalgia that has not been diagnosed.


    Researchers gathered much of the data used in this study from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a unique five-year collaboration (from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2009) between healthcare providers in Olmsted County, Minnesota (including the Mayo Clinic). The medical providers worked together and shared their medical records with researchers in an effort to better understand the causes and outcomes of different illnesses and to determine the true frequency of certain conditions as well as the true success rate of various treatments .

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    Study Design and Results


    The objective of the study “was to estimate and compare the prevalence of fibromyalgia by two different methods, in Olmsted County, Minnesota.”

    • The first method used the epidemiology project to identify 3,410 patients whose symptoms indicated they might have FM. Approximately one-third of them (1,115) had received an FM diagnosis. The age- and sex-adjusted prevalence of diagnosed fibromyalgia by this method was 1.1%.

    • In the second method, surveys were randomly mailed to 2,994 adults in Olmsted County. The researchers used the American College of Rheumatology's fibromyalgia research survey criteria to determine which respondents might have FM. Of the 830 who responded to the survey, 44 (5.3%) met the criteria, however, only 12 had received an FM diagnosis. The age- and sex-adjusted prevalence of fibromyalgia by this method was estimated at 6.4%.

    Based on the survey responses, 20 times more men appeared to have FM than had been diagnosed but only three times more women with FM symptoms remained undiagnosed.




    The researchers concluded, “Our results suggest that patients, particularly men, who meet the fibromyalgia research survey criteria are unlikely to have been given a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.”


    My Thoughts...


    We've come a long way in the past 20 years, but there are still far too many people who are not being accurately diagnosed in a timely manner. Since early diagnosis and treatment of FM can make a significant difference in the prognosis and overall quality of life for patients, it is essential that more doctors learn how to recognize FM and develop the confidence to diagnose and treat it when appropriate.




    Vincent A, et al. “Prevalence of fibromyalgia: A population-based study in Olmstead County, Minnesota, utilizing the Rochester Epidemiology project.” Arthritis Care and Research. 2012 Nov 30. doi: 10.1002/acr.21896. [Epub ahead of print]


Published On: December 20, 2012