Getting a diagnosis of fibromyalgia can require an astute doctor and a patient who is patient. It can take an average of five years to get an accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association. Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness in the body, fatigue, sleep disturbances and sometimes memory lapses or trouble thinking clearly (sometimes referred to as "fibro fog").
There are no tests such as x-rays or blood work that can give a definitive diagnosis of fibromyalgia (although sometimes those tests can rule out other possible causes of symptoms). Your doctor will make a diagnosis of fibromyalgia after taking a detailed and thorough medical history. He may do a physical exam or may ask you if you have pain in 19 different areas of your body.
Based on those factors, your doctor may diagnose you with fibromyalgia if:
- You have pain in many different areas of your body, and you are bothered by symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbances, problems with memory and thinking clearly.
- You have had these symptoms for at least three months at a steady level.
- No other health problems could explain these symptoms. For example, arthritis may cause pain and tenderness, but it also causes inflammation of the joints, which is not a problem in people who have fibromyalgia.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are medications that can help control the pain. Lifestyle habits including regular exercise, stress reduction techniques and getting ample sleep also can help you manage your symptoms and help you get the most out of life when you have fibromyalgia.
More Answers from Mehmet Oz, MD