What are the race-related differences in the incidence of fibromyalgia?

Updated: Apr 23, 2020
  • Author: Chad S Boomershine, MD, PhD, CPI, CPT; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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While studies have identified patients with fibromyalgia in countries around the world, most have been done in developed countries and few have looked specifically at the effect of race.

In the United States, African-American women have a higher prevalence of fibromyalgia than white women. [86] However, increased body pain and tenderness are associated with decreased socioeconomic status, so this may be an important influence on racial differences. Another study comparing Sephardic and Ashkenazic Israeli women found that education, rather than ethnic identity, was a determining factor in clinical features of fibromyalgia. [87] Studies of persons in China appear to demonstrate a consistently lower prevalence of fibromyalgia than persons in the United States and Europe. [88]

Much work needs to be done to better understand racial differences, but it has been limited by the need to perform tender-point examinations to identify patients. The demonstration that a patient self-report questionnaire using the modified 2010 ACR criteria fibromyalgia can reliably identify fibromyalgia patients should allow for more studies on race and fibromyalgia to be conducted. [89]

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