Fibromyalgia: a woman’s disease?

Fibromyalgia most often follows a physical, emotional or chemical trauma. This may be the reason for the numerous cases of soldiers who contracted severe debilitating conditions and symptoms including various levels of pain, GI disturbances, headaches, fatigue and some that do not appear to have any diagnostic relationship to each other.

Fibromyalgia most often follows a physical, emotional or chemical trauma. This may be the reason for the numerous cases of soldiers who contracted severe debilitating conditions and symptoms including various levels of pain, GI disturbances, headaches, fatigue and some that do not appear to have any diagnostic relationship to each other.

by Dr. Kenneth F. Muhich — 

Fibromyalgia is not a woman’s disease, although it is often portrayed as such. At first glance it may appear to be, because so many women are diagnosed with the condition. Fibromyalgia is not a new disease. Its many symptoms can be traced back to Biblical times and are written about in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Historically, the majority of references to fibromyalgia are not female based. Most are undefined in terms of gender or are attributed to the male, particularly in military history. Throughout the history of warfare, numerous studies have been conducted on the many injuries sustained by soldiers. Some of the greatest advances in medical science have occurred as a result of battlefield emergency care.

In spite of these advances, fibromyalgia has been and still is one of the most misunderstood and difficult-to-treat conditions. At times, it was believed that the patients complaining of this condition were cowards, due to the fact that no bodily injuries were visible. Eventually, medical science began to evaluate the thousands of military personnel who reported suffering from similar symptoms, even when no physical injuries were apparent or present.

Fibromyalgia most often follows a physical, emotional or chemical trauma. This may be the reason for the numerous cases of soldiers who contracted severe debilitating conditions and symptoms including various levels of pain, GI disturbances, headaches, fatigue and some that do not appear to have any diagnostic relationship to each other.

On examination, none of the soldiers involved had suffered any physical combat injuries, and none of the available objective tests resulted in positive findings.

Early research findings primarily involved males. Attention toward females and fibromyalgia only began after a number of women who worked in military secretarial jobs during World War II reported disabling symptoms that required them to be hospitalized. Back then, there was no plausible reason to relegate fibromyalgia occurrences to a specific gender.

Today, a lot of people still believe that fibromyalgia and females are synonymous, even though research has proven that fibromyalgia affects males just as often as females. But due to machismo and the stigma of the condition, most males do not visit a doctor for symptoms of general aches, pains and fatigue. Apparently, this condition just does not seem “masculine.”

Most doctors will state that the majority of their fibromyalgia patients are female. This could be attributed to the fact that most females are not as burdened by gender insecurities as males and thus tend to be more proactive when it comes to their own health care. Perhaps this is one reason why females often live longer than males.

 

Dr. Kenneth Muhich is a chiropractic physician specializing in the treatment of painful conditions at Stetson Chiropractic Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. stetsonchiropractic.com or 480-948-4955.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 2, April/May 2013.

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