Could More Men Have Fibromyalgia and Not Know It?

Male fibromyalgia patient with chronic pain Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome that is quite difficult to diagnose and widely misunderstood. At this time, there is still not diagnostic test that has been developed specifically for fibromyalgia, and researchers have yet to find a way to cure it. The people who have this medical condition can experience a wide range of symptoms including chronic fatigue, widespread pain, insomnia, memory problems, and depression.

Unfortunately, with such a broad range of symptoms, fibromyalgia is often mistaken as some other disease or illness. A new fibromyalgia clinical study from the Mayo Clinic has suggested that there are many people with this syndrome, especially men, who are going undiagnosed.

Of course, there is still more research needed, particularly on why it seems like more men who claimed to have experienced fibro symptoms were less likely to be diagnosed than women who had reported these symptoms. Dr. Ann Vincent, the acting medical director of Mayo Clinic’s Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Clinic, is very keen to investigate this matter further.

Fibromyalgia is being overlooked in Male Patients

According to Dr. Vincent, “Health care providers may not think of this diagnosis when face to face with a male patient with musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. These findings need to be explored further.”

Medical researchers focused their efforts on Olmsted County, Minn., which houses a comprehensive medical records pool called the Rochester Epidemiology Project. The research team made use of a number of methods to try and contact people with fibromyalgia over the age of 21.

A Significant Number Who are Undiagnosed

By utilizing this epidemiology project, researchers were able to identify a little over 3,000 registered patients who could realistically have fibromyalgia. However, only a third of these patients had actually been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. This equates to 1.1 percent of the U.S. population that is at least 21 years old.

This research team also randomly surveyed adults in Olmsted County using the fibromyalgia research survey criteria developed by the American College of Rheumatology. This particular set of criteria include the most commonly associated symptoms of fibromyalgia: widespread pain and tenderness, issues sleeping, fatigue, memory problems, depression, and anxiety. Among the 830 patients who took part in this survey, about 5.3 percent (44 people) met these criteria, but only 12 people had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Discrepancy between Reported Symptoms and Diagnosis

Based on an analysis of this study’s findings, the research team has estimated that around 6.4 percent of the adults (21 years of age or older) in Olmsted County actually have fibromyalgia, which is significantly more than the number who have been diagnosed with it.

Fibromyalgia is notoriously more common in women, but that does not mean that men can’t get it too. This study has shed light on the discrepancy between the number of men reporting fibromyalgia symptoms and the number actually being diagnosed with the syndrome. What this survey has shown is that there are a lot of men out there who could be suffering from fibromyalgia without having the proper diagnosis.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia Accurately

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

Prior fibromyalgia clinical studies have produced compelling evidence that by accurately diagnosing more people who have this syndrome, it will help contribute to lower health care costs. Since, these patients will then not require further diagnostic tests and referrals as they continue to search for the cause of their chronic pain.