What are the sex-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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In pediatric cases, differences in fibromyalgia prevalence between boys and girls are hardly evident. In adults, women tend to develop fibromyalgia more often than men. However, the true difference in prevalence between women and men depends on how the disorder is defined. If fibromyalgia is defined as fulfillment of the original 1990 ACR classification criteria that require pain on palpation of at least 11 of 18 tender points, [9] fibromyalgia prevalence displays a 7:1 female:male ratio. [63]

However, the 1990 ACR classification criteria miss nearly half of patients clinically diagnosed with fibromyalgia and perform particularly poorly in men since they tend to have fewer painful tender points. [10] If instead fibromyalgia is defined using the 2010 ACR diagnostic criteria that do not use tender points, the difference in prevalence of fibromyalgia between women and men is only about 2:1. [80]

Males with fibromyalgia tend to have lower health perception and more physical limitations than females. Females with fibromyalgia have greater pain sensitivity [54] and may exhibit greater life interference due to pain.

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