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Fibromyalgia Facts and Fiction

Find out more about this condition.
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About 5 million Americans (90% of them women) have fibromyalgia, a condition that causes chronic pain throughout the body, accompanied by poor sleep and fatigue. Here, Lesley M. Arnold, M.D., director of women's health research at the University of Cincinnati, clears up some common misconceptions.

Myth: There's no way to screen for it.

FACT: It can't be detected through a blood test or X-ray, but the American College of Rheumatology developed this diagnostic criteria: Pain in at least 11 of 18 specific spots on the body that lasts for three months or more. See the diagram below.

Myth: There's no treatment.

Fact: The FDA approved Lyrica (pregabalin), the first medication for fibromyalgia pain, in June. It seems to work by reducing the release of neurotransmitters involved in pain processing, so patients feel and sleep better.

Myth: Only older adults have this condition.

Fact: It's most often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.

The American College of Rheumatology developed diagnostic criteria: Pain in at least 11 of 18 specific spots on the body (including neck, lower back and knees) that lasts for at least three months. Check this diagram to determine which spots you should check:

Fibromyalgia Diagram
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Courtesy of National Fibromyalgia Association

Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the October 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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