Friday, December 31, 2010

Women living with fibromyalgia may top number with diabetes, study finds

Athena Champneys is no stranger to questions about fibromyalgia, the disease that leaves her feeling wiped out and in pain. Some people don't trust it exists, and most don't understand it well. So it's no wonder that a national survey released this month doesn't shock Champneys, who was diagnosed in December 2003. The research found that American women with the condition experience prolonged physical and emotional struggles. Champney's diagnosis came after debilitating pain settled in as a burning sensation up and down her spine and into her extremities.

The survey, conducted for, a top online women's health web site, found that it had taken most women who had fibromyalgia at least a year to get a diagnosis and that a fourth of them wait five years or more to find out what's incorrect. Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, executive director of, told an estimated 75 percent of those with the disease may still be undiagnosed. The numbers, she noted, could rival those living with diabetes.

"Even minimal activity drains the living tar out of me," said Champneys. "By afternoon, I need to lie down and rest. If I am having a bad day, I have to use an electric wheelchair in stores. You get all kind of attractive looks if they see you walk up to it."

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