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Pain Medicine News Focuses on Dr. Benedict Alter’s Fibromyalgia Research Utilizing Digital Mapping

Dr. Benedict AlterThe Pain Medicine News article “Can Digital Mapping Improve Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia?” featured fibromyalgia research by Benedict Alter, MD, PhD.

Dr. Alter led a recent study aiming to improve the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, an often underrecognized condition, particularly in older patients and men. Analyzing data from over 21,000 patients presenting to pain management clinics, the researchers found that a significant number of individuals with symptoms suggestive of fibromyalgia did not have a formal diagnosis. Notably, of all the patients with a fibromyalgia diagnosis, only 7% were men vs. 93% women whereas the distribution should be at a rate of one male for every three females, or about 25% to 75%, highlighting potential gender bias in diagnosis. Using digital pain body maps and machine learning techniques, the researchers suggested a promising strategy to reduce bias and improve diagnosis accuracy.

Dr. Alter emphasizes the importance of using body diagrams to prompt evaluation for fibromyalgia and encourages patients to discuss their pain history with their physicians. While acknowledging limitations in relying solely on diagnosis codes from electronic medical records, the researchers plan to further validate informatic approaches to identify fibromyalgia, aiming to enhance patient care by facilitating early recognition and treatment of the condition.

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