Is fibromyalgia (FM) a distinct clinical entity? Historical & epidemiological evidence

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Most medical specialities have defined medically unexplained
syndromes such as fibromyalgia, to categorize patients with
prominent but unexplained symptoms. Other such syndromes
include irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and
atypical chest pain. In this chapter we present evidence to
suggest that fibromyalgia is not a unique clinical entity, but
shares much with these other syndromes. We use historical,
clinical and epidemiological evidence to illustrate this idea.

The historical data emphasize the essentially arbitrary way in
which fibromyalgia developed. The clinical evidence shows the
considerable overlap between patients with fibromyalgia and
those with other unexplained syndromes. From an
epidemiological perspective we emphasize the strong
associations between symptoms such as myalgia and fatigue. We
conclude by suggesting that fibromyalgia is one of many
medically unexplained syndromes which have more similarities
than differences between them.

Wessely S, Hotopf M

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