Coping with a chronic disorderIf you suffer from fibromyalgia, you know there’s no simple fix for the chronic pain disorder. Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 10 million people in the U.S., according to the National Fibromyalgia Association, and about 80 percent of people with the disorder are women. There’s no single cause, says Dr. Kevin Fleming, director of the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The brains of people with fibromyalgia amplify pain signals, which can cause constant and sometimes severe pain in the muscles even when there’s no apparent injury. “The part of the brain that detects pain becomes ‘hijacked’ over time,” Fleming says. The disorder can be painfully debilitating. “Fibromyalgia has a significant impact on the quality of life for those who suffer from it,” says Dr. Bruce S. Gillis, chief executive officer of EpicGenetics Inc., a private biomedical firm in Los Angeles that focuses on the treatment and diagnosis of fibromyalgia. He’s part of a team of researchers conducting a clinical study looking for genetic markers that cause fibromyalgia.