Holocaust survivors: The pain behind the agony. Increased prevalence of fibromyalgia among Holocaust survivors Academic Article uri icon


  • To assess the frequency of fibromyalgia among a population of Holocaust survivors in Israel as well as the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and concurrent psychiatric symptoms, including depression and anxiety among survivors. Eighty-three survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and 65 age-matched individuals not exposed to Nazi occupation were recruited. Physical examination and manual tender point assessment was performed for the establishment of the diagnosis of fibromyalgia and information was collected regarding quality of life (SF-36), physical function and health (FIQ), psychiatric symptoms (SCL-90) and PTSD symptoms (CAPS). Significantly increased rates of fibromyalgia were identified among Holocaust survivors compared with controls (23.81% vs. 10.94, p<0.05). Significantly increased rates of posttraumatic symptoms and measures of mental distress were also identified among survivors. The results indicate a significantly increased prevalence of fibromyalgia among Holocaust survivors six decades after the end of the Second World War. This finding furthers our knowledge regarding the long-term effect of stress on the development of fibromyalgia.

publication date

  • November 1, 2010