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Gend Med. 2009;6 Suppl 2:139-51. doi: 10.1016/j.genm.2009.01.004.

Fibromyalgia: diagnosis and treatment options.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15237, USA.



Fibromyalgia is a widespread, chronic pain disorder that includes a complex constellation of somatic and emotional symptoms. Controlled clinical trials for both medication and nonmedication therapies have led to sound, evidence-based recommendations for the care of patients with fibromyalgia.


This review article was designed to provide updated information from database literature searches on fibromyalgia epidemiology, including gender differences, psychological comorbidity, and treatment with medication and nonmedication therapies.


A literature review was performed by identifying fibromyalgia articles published in English from January 2000 to October 2008 using the PubMed and EMBASE databases. Search terms included fibromyalgia, exercise, gender, nonpharmacologic, placebo-controlled, randomized, and treatment.


New epidemiologic data support important differences in fibromyalgia symptom severity between the sexes and the important role of comorbid psychological distress. Physicians diagnose fibromyalgia in women at an approximately 3- to 6-fold rate compared with men. Well-conducted clinical trials and recently published treatment guidelines reinforce effective treatment with medication and nonpharmacologic therapy. The strongest evidence suggests effective treatment of fibromyalgia with duloxetine and milnacipran. Studies also report efficacy with gabapentin, pramipexole, pregabalin, tramadol, and IV tropisetron. Nonpharmacologic treatments should include fitness and strengthening exercise, as well as warm-water therapy and psychological pain management techniques.


Fibromyalgia is a common, disabling, chronic pain condition that predominantly affects women. Symptoms can be effectively treated using both drug and nondrug therapies. In general, treatment benefits in fibromyalgia appear largely independent of patient sex.

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