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Location: Raleigh, NC
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Southern California Nonprofit Leads the Effort

Orange, CA -- The number of people who suffer from the chronic and debilitating pain condition called fibromyalgia is now estimated at 10 million in the US alone. To increase the public's awareness of this poorly understood condition, May 12th of each year has been designated "Fibromyalgia Awareness Day." Members of local and national support organizations around the world are conducting a variety of activities to alert their communities to this common but little-known illness, in order to make sure that those afflicted with FM get the help and support they so desperately need.

Without a known cause or cure, fibromyalgia has often baffled patients and health care practitioners alike. In the past, lack of scientific information led to myths and misleading claims about FM. Some claimed that the disease was psychological in nature because existing lab tests showed no distinct abnormalities. The damage of this misinformation was extensive, leaving individuals to live their lives in chronic pain and fear, without effective treatment, and frequently misunderstood by their employers, friends and family. But current research documents a variety of biochemical abnormalities in patients with FM that indicate a physiological cause. While FM is most common in women (at least 75%), the illness affects men, women, and children of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.

The need for awareness persists, as many doctors are inadequately educated about this mysterious and complex disease. It often takes an average of five years for a person to get a diagnosis of FM, and Dr. Daniel Wallace of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles estimates that fibromyalgia costs society over $9 billion dollars a year in medical visits, disability and loss of productivity.

As scientific research begins to illuminate a clearer picture of the disease, public awareness is more important than ever. The call to expand research programs, educate doctors, and increase community awareness is ringing loud and clear from the grassroots organizations. The National Fibromyalgia Association, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Orange, CA, is working to support these efforts through a variety of programs.

NFA's "Proclamation Program," established in 1999, is an international program that has helped spread awareness of FM among lawmakers and the general public. Thousands of mayors and other elected officials have declared May 12th to be "Fibromyalgia Awareness Day" in their jurisdictions. Participants have included Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and New York. Communities throughout the United States are invited to help support efforts to bring about an improved quality of life for people with fibromyalgia.

One of the most difficult aspects of having FM is that most of the symptoms are invisible, which makes it hard for others to understand what living with this debilitating illness is really like. Although there have been recent advances in research, much more is needed in order to find a definitive cause and cure for fibromyalgia. According to Lynne Matallana, NFA's Executive Director, "Hope is an integral part of dealing with the condition's daily challenges. With increased education and research, people suffering with FM will have a brighter future."

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world" - Albert Einstein

Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:16 pm
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