Fort Smith - Arkansas Valley Fibromyalgia Support Group
Hot Springs - Fibromyalgia Education and Support- Hot Springs
Pine Bluff - Pine Bluff Fibromyalgia support Group
Russellville - River Valley Fibromyalgia Support Group
The National Fibromyalgia Association has a network of support groups across the United States, and encourages participation of the fibromyalgia community. Participation in support groups can provide an opportunity to reach out to others who have had similar challenges and foster an improved understanding of lifestyle management.
Founded in 1997 in Orange, California, by Lynne Matallana and Karen Lee Richards, the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) is the largest nonprofit [501(c)3] organization working to support people with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain illnesses. Lynne and Karen became acquainted in the mid-1990s through an online fibromyalgia (FM) chat group. Both women had seen numerous doctors before receiving a diagnosis and they were concerned that many people with FM were not receiving the medical attention and support that they desperately needed. Before long, the pair was sharing ideas about helping others with FM. They concluded that there was very little reliable information about this misunderstood and debilitating condition—and that patients and health care providers needed to unite to ensure helpful information was easily accessible to those with this chronic disorder .
What began as a part-time altruistic venture quickly grew into a full time “life’s work” for Lynne. After receiving non-profit status for the organization and developing a mission platform focused on executing programs to improve the quality of life for people affected by FM, the next step was to find a team of individuals who were also passionate about helping people with FM. The National Fibromyalgia Association became an organization made up of devoted individuals who made a concentrated effort to create a voice for people with fibromyalgia by supporting and staging awareness events, encouraging high profile media coverage, and providing support and training to support group leaders across the country. The NFA’s philosophy was to help empower patients and to provide them with a new level of hope for the future.
Over the next five years the NFA evolved from its humble beginnings in a make shift office in Lynne’s attic, to a nationally respected organization carrying out programs that helped change the attitudes and understanding of what it is like to live with FM. Lynne’s personal dream of growing an organization from just an idea into a thriving and effective vehicle representing the needs of an under represented and misunderstood community of patients became a reality. In a very short period of time the NFA expanded its efforts to include the development of an educational web site, the publication of an international magazine, Fibromyalgia AWARE and the development of continuing medical education programs.
Between May 2000 and March 2006, the NFA hosted six international conferences, each providing a venue for leading fibromyalgia authorities to share their research and expertise with patients and health care professionals alike. The most recent FAME (Fibromyalgia Awareness Means Everything) conference was a three day event for over 1,000 patients and health-care providers. The event marked a turning point for the NFA, which is looking forward to a future brighter than ever before as the medical community continues to learn about fibromyalgia, patients continue to develop powerful self-management techniques, and the organization continues to grow and speak out about the state of fibromyalgia.
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