Fibromyalgia by Numbers: Key Statistics You Need to Know

What is fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that is characterized by chronic (ongoing) and widespread pain, plus any number of other symptoms including fatigue, sleep troubles, mood disturbances and abdominal and digestive issues. It also often coexists with other comorbidities such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Despite affecting millions of people worldwide, research into fibromyalgia is still in its infancy. It often takes years for someone to receive a diagnosis and many people who live with fibromyalgia have no idea what caused their condition.

We look at key fibromyalgia facts and figures that you’ll want to know.

Prevalence & demographic of fibromyalgia

How many people have fibromyalgia? And who are they?

  • 2% or around 160 million: the number of people in the world who have fibromyalgia. Including 4 million in the United States, up to 3 million in the United Kingdom and 1 million in Australia.
  • 7 times: the increased rate at which women are diagnosed compared to men.
  • 40–60 years old: the age when most people receive a fibro diagnosis.
  • 5 years: the average length of time it takes someone to receive a diagnosis.

The reported prevalence of fibromyalgia varies because fibromyalgia symptoms can vary widely, there are no definitive tests for the condition, and it usually takes people a long time to receive a diagnosis. Therefore, the actual numbers could be a lot higher.

Sources: CDC, Fibromyalgia Australia, NHS, Vincent et al., 2013, Wolfe et al., 2013.

Causes of fibromyalgia & chronic pain

Two thirds of people with fibromyalgia who were surveyed through the US, the UK and Japan attributed or linked their chronic pain to a specific situation or string of events.

  • Physical trauma, such as an infection, injury or surgery: 25-50%.
  • Menopause: up to 10%.
  • Childbirth: up to 8%.
  • Bereavement: 40%.
  • Adverse childhood experiences: 48%.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): up to 60% – among the MoreGoodDays community a huge 95% of people with fibromyalgia have some sort of trauma or PTSD.
  • Workplace bullying: 4.1 odds ratio of incident diagnosed fibromyalgia.

There can be many other causes of fibromyalgia, and many people with ongoing pain have a complicated mix of different contributing factors.

Sources: Kivimäki et al., 2004, Sukenik et al., 2008, Furness et al., 2018.

Economic cost of fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia causes economics costs to the person living with pain, those who care for them, and the healthcare system.

  • USD $16 billion to $20 billion: annual cost of fibromyalgia in the United States alone, including the costs of medications, doctor visits, hospital stays, lost productivity and disability payments.
  • AUD $139 billion: the estimated total cost of chronic pain (including fibromyalgia) in Australia in 2018.
  • 2x: the medical costs incurred by the average individual living with fibromyalgia compared to the general population in the United States.
  • USD $1750 to $35,920: total cost of healthcare per person living with fibro in the United States in 2019.
  • USD $1250 to $8504: total cost of healthcare per person living with fibro in Europe.
  • 50%: the number of Australians living with fibromyalgia who cut back on the basics – food, toiletries, utilities etc. – to pay for their healthcare in 2023.
  • 35% to 55%: number of people with fibromyalgia who receive some sort of disability support.

According to a Canadian study:

  • 45.6%: the number of people living with fibromyalgia who had a paid job.
  • 22.4 days: the number of working days lost in a year due to fibromyalgia for the average individual.
  • 100.4 days: the number of days of household productivity lost in a year due to fibromyalgia for the average individual.

Sources: White et al., 2011, Thompson et al., 2011, Lacasse et al., 2016, D'Onghi et al., 2022, AIHW, Palstam et al., 2017, Arthritis Australia.

Impact of fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia can have a huge impact on someone’s life. This includes effects to their personal relationships, their ability to work with chronic pain, their ability to complete unpaid work and other tasks, and their emotional wellbeing and overall quality of life.

  • 2x: your chance of being hospitalized if you have fibromyalgia, compared to the general population.
  • 3x: the number of adults with fibro who live with depression, compared to adults who do not have fibro.
  • 90%: people with fibro also have some sort of sleep problem.
  • 80%: people with fibro also experience fatigue.
  • 50%: people with fibro also have cognitive and memory problems.
  • 20%: people with fibromyalgia in the United States who also have anxiety or depression.

Living with fibromyalgia also has huge impacts on a person’s ability to complete paid and unpaid work.

  • 40-60%: adults with fibromyalgia who do not have paid employment.
  • 15%: adults with fibromyalgia who are in full-time paid employment.

Sources: Mukhida et al., 2020, ADAA, CDC, Vincent et al., 2013, Bigatti et al., 2008, Glass et al., 2001.

Knowledge is power

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