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The Prevalence of Fibromyalgia in Collegiate Athletes

Andary, Michael T. MD*; Wieting, J Michael DO*; Baer, Daniel DO; Naftulin, Scott DO‡§; Hallgren, Richard C. PhD*

JCR: Journal of Clinical Rheumatology: December 2004 - Volume 10 - Issue 6 - p 323-325
doi: 10.1097/01.rhu.0000147051.71937.42
Original Article

Background: The prevalence of fibromyalgia in the general population is reported in numbers that range between 0.5% and 10%, with considerable variability in the populations studied and criteria for diagnosis used. The prevalence in competitive young adult athletes is unknown, but we expect it to be less than the general population.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of fibromyalgia in college student athletes.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, cross-section cohort evaluation of 641 athletes using the 1990 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. Volunteer college student athletes were evaluated with a questionnaire and physical examination at preparticipation physical examinations from 1993 to 1999.

Results: Of the 641 athletes examined, we found only one who met the ACR criteria for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Limitations: There were a limited number of athletes involved, there was no age- or activity-matched control group, and there were no other demographic information or associated symptoms collected.

Conclusions: The prevalence for fibromyalgia in this population was found to be 0.16%, which is lower than the prevalence found in studies describing other populations. The protective effects of this population are unclear but could be related to age, fitness level, self-selection, and/or other factors.

Only 1 of 641 athletes evaluated at Michigan State University met American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia.

From the *Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; †Private Practice, Boulder, Colorado; the ‡Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and §Northeastern Rehabilitation Associates, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Reprints: Michael T. Andary, MD, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. E-mail:

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.