What is the historical background on fibromyalgia?

Updated: Apr 23, 2020
  • Author: Chad S Boomershine, MD, PhD, CPI, CPT; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Although fibromyalgia was not defined until the late 20th century, it was discovered much earlier. Descriptions in the medical literature date as far back as the early 17th century and in the lay literature to ancient times with descriptions of the condition in the biblical book of Job.

Until recent decades, many physicians questioned the existence of fibromyalgia. Over time, however, a growing body of evidence established fibromyalgia as a syndrome comprising a specific set of signs and symptoms.

In 1987, the American Medical Association (AMA) acknowledged fibromyalgia as a true illness and a potential cause of disability. Many well-respected organizations, such as the AMA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the World Health Organization (WHO), have accepted fibromyalgia as a legitimate clinical entity.

Before 1990, no accepted guidelines for identifying fibromyalgia patients for study existed. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) sponsored a multicenter study to develop classification criteria; the results were published in 1990. [9] In 1992, at the Second World Congress on Myofascial Pain and Fibromyalgia, these classification criteria for fibromyalgia were expanded and refined. However, the criteria performed poorly in the clinic, failing to identify nearly half of fibromyalgia patients. [10] To improve diagnosis, new fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria were provisionally accepted by the ACR in 2010. [11]

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