Acceptance of Fibromyalgia as a “Real” Disease by the Medical Establishment

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  • In 1987, the American Medical Association accepted fibromyalgia as a real disease.
  • “Originally recognized as an unavoidable part of normal aging, it became a defined pathology when officially recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1994. Once a condition is recognized, numerous advantages accrue, including the validation of the illness and suffering, as well as fiscal advantages, which include treatment reimbursements.11 If official recognition by the WHO is a requirement for designation as a disease, then FM fulfills this condition. In 1994, the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) listed FM under “diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue.”12 In contrast, if a defined etiology and pathophysiology are required for the definition of a disease, then FM is not a disease.13 The WHO uses the term ”disorder“ throughout the classification of mental disorders, thereby avoiding problems inherent in the use of terms such as “disease” and “illness.” However, “disorder” is not an exact term, but is used to imply the existence of a clinically recognizable set of symptoms or behaviors associated in most cases with distress and interference with personal functions.12 In this context, FM meets the criteria of a disorder.” (Winfried Häuser, MD*, Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MD, Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2018 Mar; 20(1): 53–62, doi: 10.31887/DCNS.2018.20.1/whauser. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, except for commercial use.)