standing skirmishes between social medicine and biomedicine (aka the
germ theory model). Fans of the unprovable theory of social medicine's
so-called medicalization theory, such as Dr. Nortin Hadler, believe
fibromyalgia is the "medicalization of misery," but offer no objective
evidence that they are correct. Many rely on the lack of biomedical
evidence or conflicting evidence as proof although absence of proof is
not necessarily considered proof of absence. Others, particularly
early on, argued that if the word fibromyalgia were removed from the
vocabulary of patients, the disease would cease to exist. They offered
no definitive proof of this hypothesis either however. On the
biomedical side the objective biomedical evidence continues to mounts
as scientists learn more about the biological underpinnings of pain.
JOURNEY: SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS
Why Fibromyalgia Has a Credibility Problem
On top of their daily struggle with pain, fibromyalgia patients are
sometimes forced to fight another battle—convincing doctors, friends,
coworkers, and others that their condition is real and that their pain
is not all in their head.
Women suffer disproportionately from fibromyalgia, the symptoms are
complex, and there is no cure. For these reasons, many patients and
some doctors say that fibromyalgia is under-recognized and
undertreated in the U.S.
"It was maddening. I felt like most of the doctors I saw were not
acknowledging that I was really in pain," says Shelley Kirkpatrick,
32, of Bellefontaine, Ohio, who began experiencing fatigue and
excruciating joint and muscle pain in 2004.
"I felt they were thinking I was exaggerating my symptoms or that I
was making them up entirely," says Kirkpatrick. "Even to the point
where I saw a neurologist who told my husband to take me to a
psychiatrist because there was nothing wrong with me."
Finally after two years of fruitless tests, her doctor told her she
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