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About AFSA

Research Priorities

The American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association (AFSA) funds research proposals that fall into one of the following categories: 

  • Identify the physiological mechanisms that cause the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
  • Test therapeutic interventions or agents for reducing fibromyalgia symptoms.
  • Identify/develop lab markers or other test measures that can be used for diagnostic and clinical evaluation purposes.

Identifying the possible causes of fibromyalgia is essential for developing highly effective therapies. Although patients have many treatment options, none of them provide substantial relief of the symptoms. At best, any one approach helps a minority of people with fibromyalgia by reducing one or two symptoms by 30 percent. And the only way to determine which patient might respond favorably to a given therapy is trial and error. This is unacceptable.

Figuring out what causes fibromyalgia could take years, possibly decades. In the meantime, novel treatments based on new information regarding the physiology of this disease need to be tested to reduce patient suffering. The goal is to find therapies that help patients today to minimize disability down the road.

The lag time between the onset of fibromyalgia symptoms and eventually being diagnosed with this disease is shameful. Adults can lose their careers and relationships; young people can lose out on an education and social development. The invisible symptoms of fibromyalgia make it even more important that objective diagnostic lab markers be developed. Otherwise, patients will continue to face a credibility dilemma – in the doctor’s office, at work (or school), and with family and friends.

AFSA does NOT fund:

  • behavioral interventions
  • psychosocial or survey-driven assessments
  • self-help or lifestyle change strategies
  • movement therapies (e.g., any form of exercise)

None of the above studies will generate new physiological findings, better treatments, or objective lab markers for people with fibromyalgia. Besides, the medical journals are already replete with reports that falsely place the blame on patients, implying that all they need to do is exercise more and think happy thoughts.

In addition, AFSA does not fund the testing of expensive experimental treatments that are out-of-reach financially to most patients living in the United States. Nor do we fund projects that test therapies designed to benefit a third-party corporation (e.g., they have patented a device and they want AFSA to pay for testing it). Although we do fund researchers outside the United States, we are particularly sensitive to the needs of patients living in this country.