Somatic symptoms are one of the leading reasons for medical outpatient clinic visits, with the most common symptoms having a prevalence of 10% or more. However, the usual diagnostic workups are often unproductive, with <1 in 5 symptoms having an organic explanation after the initial physical examination and laboratory testing. Therapy appears more effective for some symptoms than for others. Of patients with unspecified pain or gastrointestinal complaints, >70% state that some type of treatment has been helpful, whereas <50% of individuals with fatigue, dizziness, numbness, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, or depression report any relief. Future educational efforts and research need to focus on that majority of symptoms that are either psychiatric or unexplained, in order to improve our current evaluation and management strategies.
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