By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Fibromyalgia has a worldwide presence affecting nearly 1 in 20 people globally. In the United States nearly 2–10% of the general population of all ages are affected by this condition. In England and Wales there are nearly 1.76 million adults with the condition. In the United States nearly 5.0 million adults have been diagnosed with the condition.
Fibromyalgia in women and men
The numbers are much higher in women than in men. Although men may be affected by this condition, women are seen to be seven times more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
While in females the prevalence of the condition is 3.4%, among men it is 0.5%.
When does fibromyalgia develop?
The condition develops commonly between 30 and 60 years of age but may affect children and the elderly. Most people are diagnosed during middle age and the numbers tend to rise with rising age in the population.
Who is most likely to be affected by fibromyalgia?
Women in their child bearing age between 20 and 55 are most vulnerable and likely to get this condition. This is also an active working age for women.
Statistics show that women affected at these age brackets are 10 times less likely to return to work and 4 times less likely to retain work 1 year after hospitalization for fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia, work and quality of life
A working adult typically misses around 17 days of work per year compared to 6 days for persons without fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is associated with loss of productivity and also lower perception of well being and quality of life among patients.
When assessed for quality of life (self assessed), an average score of 4.8 is seen (1 = low to 10 = highest). In addition adult patients with fibromyalgia are 3.4 times more likely to have major depression than those without fibromyalgia.
People with fibromyalgia are more likely to be hospitalized frequently. On an average they may be facing 1 hospitalization every 3 years. Women have higher hospitalization rates than men.
In addition fibromyalgia results in around 5.5 million visits to the doctor’s office every year. There is a high level of associated symptoms that may range in severity from mild to severely debilitating. These necessitate hospital and doctor’s office visits.
There is little difference among mortality or death rates among patients with fibromyalgia and those who do not have the condition. Death risks may rise due to associated factors such as suicidal tendencies due to depression or death due to injuries etc.
Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)
Last Updated: Jul 31, 2013