Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the signs and symptoms commonly associated with fibromyalgia syndrome.
  2. Understand that fibromyalgia can be the sole cause of pain or one of many contributors.
  3. Describe a rational stepped care approach to the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome.

Target  Audiences

  • Medical Students: Years 1-3
  • Nursing Students: Advanced undergraduates; 1st and 2nd year Master’s         degree candidates 
  • Dental Students: Year 3
  • Physical Therapy Students (DPT): Year 2
  • Pharmacy Students: Year 3

Case Description

Fibromyalgia is a common chronic pain disorder that effects millions of Americans, most of whom are woman.  Many patients with fibromyalgia undergo unneeded testing and interventional procedures prior to their diagnosis. Patients with fibromyalgia may appear well, but are often disabled by their pain and struggle to find appropriate treatment. This case focuses on the diagnosis and multidisciplinary treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome.

Potential Impact of Case 2 Education

Improve knowledge: Improve fibromyalgia recognition and accuracy of diagnosis; reduce use of inappropriate diagnostic procedures and medications.

Change attitudes: Reassure patients that fibromyalgia symptoms can be managed but not cured; reduce doctor shopping.

Gain skills: Improve utilization of multi-disciplinary management of fibromyalgia; improve patient-provider relationship and communication.


University of Pittsburgh

  • Cheryl D. Bernstein, MD1, †: Co-Investigator
  • Debra K. Weiner, MD ‡,1,2,3,4: Principal Investigator
  • Michael J. Schneider, DC, PhD4,5: Co-Investigator
  • Jordon F. Karp, MD3, †: Co-Investigator
  • Heiko Spallek, DMD, PhD, MSBA6,7: Co-Principal Investigator

1School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology; 2School of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine; 3School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry; 4Clinical and Translational Science Institute; 5School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Physical Therapy; 6School of Dental Medicine, Office of Faculty Affairs; 7School of Dental Medicine, Department of Dental Public Health

Non-University of Pittsburgh related appointments

UPMC Pain Medicine at Centre Commons; ‡ VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center


This curriculum resource was supported with funding from the NIH Pain Consortium, which approves the educational value of the information provided. The authors listed on this resource are responsible for its content, and questions may be directed to their Center of Excellence in Pain Education. The NIH Pain Consortium provides these evidence-based curriculum resources on pain management as a service to academic medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy and other health professional schools.

This resource is for educational purposes and is not intended as medical practice guidelines. Evidence-based practices may have changed since the publication of the resource.

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