How do I know if my pain is from fibromyalgia?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
To determine if your pain is from fibromyalgia, your doctor will perform a physical exam and discuss your symptoms. He or she may order tests to rule out other medical problems. A doctor may suspect fibromyalgia if your pain has lasted for at least three months, is widespread and is accompanied by certain other symptoms, notably fatigue, insomnia, and poor concentration and attention span (sometimes called "fibro fog").
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that causes widespread pain throughout the body. A variety of different symptoms are associated with fibromyalgia, so it's the kind of condition you could easily, but wrongly, think you have. Therefore, getting an accurate diagnosis is important. You need to find a physician experienced with fibromyalgia to diagnose you. He or she will take a thorough medical history and then conduct a physical exam. To determine if you have fibromyalgia, the doctor will ask if you have pain in multiple areas of your body that has lasted for more than three months and how much you are bothered by symptoms like fatigue, trouble sleeping and difficulty thinking clearly.
People with fibromyalgia feel sensations of pain all over the body - in the stomach, arms, legs, tendons, muscles and tissues -- places that normally would not bother someone else. This pain can come from normal pressure on the joints or from everyday stretching of muscles and tendons. So for people with fibromyalgia, a stretch is not just a stretch. It is a painful experience. Pressure is not just pressure; it’s pain. Cold water is not just cold; it’s painful. Even moving their bowels to pass stools can be painful. If you have fibromyalgia, it's important to understand that pain doesn't mean there's something wrong with the part of your body that hurts. Rather, it means your central nervous system is hypersensitive to pain sensations.
The pain of fibromyalgia (FM) is profound, chronic and widespread. It can migrate to all parts of the body and vary in intensity. FM pain has been described as stabbing and shooting pain, with deep muscular aching, throbbing and twitching. Neurological complaints such as numbness, tingling and burning in the extremities are often present and add to the discomfort of the person with fibromyalgia. The severity of the pain and stiffness is often worse in the morning. Aggravating factors that affect pain include cold/humid weather, non-restorative sleep, physical and mental fatigue, excessive physical activity, physical inactivity, anxiety and stress. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.