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Fibromyalgia Legal Victory

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By Source: Health Watch • • May 1, 1998

WENATCHEE, Wash. (BUSINESS WIRE) May 29, 1998 A Chelan County jury awarded $361,000 to David Rader, a Wenatchee resident, suffering from severe fibromyalgia caused by a 1994 auto collision.

On Jan. 7, 1994, a Reese's Carpet Inc. van failed to stop at a red light and collided with Rader's automobile, causing his fibromyalgia. Similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which gained recognition in the 80's, fibromyalgia has been called the "Syndrome of the 90's" by Arthritis Today. Although public awareness of the syndrome is slowly growing, the illness often goes undiagnosed because busy doctors fail to recognize it.

The Arthritis Foundation conservatively estimates that fibromyalgia affects approximately 2% of the U.S. population and can be triggered by illness, emotional stress, or as in Rader's case, physical injury caused in an accident.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include widespread pain, pain in specific tender points throughout the body, severe fatigue, depression, headaches, abdominal pain and unpredictable diarrhea. Unlike chronic fatigue syndrome, there are specific criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia. Even with these criteria, however, individuals who experience pain in the specified tender points combined with other symptoms still undergo numerous tests and trips to the doctor before receiving a clear diagnosis. A large number of victims falsely attribute their symptoms to lack of sleep, the flu, or sore muscles, leaving their syndrome undiagnosed and untreated, often aggravating their symptoms.

The jury's verdict and award in Rader's case represents a growing recognition of the pain of fibromyalgia and the debilitating effect it has on a patient's life. Steve Krafchick, Rader's attorney commented, "This is an important decision for people who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Juries are just beginning to recognize how severely disabling this condition can be. With its accompanying chronic pain, fatigue, irritable bowel symptoms, severe fibromyalgia does more than make many people's life difficult; it keeps them from participating in life."

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