Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia Diagnosis
Fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to diagnose because there is no blood or imaging test for it. Many doctors still use a tender points test to help diagnose the condition. Testing is often done to rule out other conditions that could cause pain, including arthritis, infections and Lyme disease.

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  • 2 Answers
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    The prognosis for fibromyalgia can vary dramatically from person to person. There is a wide range of symptoms, including muscle pain, tender joints, sleeplessness, morning stiffness, and headaches. There are a variety of treatments.

    To understand your own prognosis, tell your doctor or healthcare provider what you are experiencing and how it affects your quality of life. You will understand your prognosis better after discussing your condition with your doctor.

    Treatments can include a combination of medications and alternative therapies, even massage and changes in diet. There are prescription medications available, and non-prescription pain medications can help if taken under supervision. Your doctor will help you understand how fibromyalgia is going to affect you.
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  • 1 Answer
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    To help your doctor diagnose fibromyalgia, keep track of and report all of your symptoms. Note any changes in your symptoms as sometimes symptoms come and go. Ask questions while your doctor tests you for other illnesses to eliminate them as the source of your pain. Make sure that your doctor is knowledgeable about fibromyalgia. Your doctor should be open and honest with you about your condition and treatment.
  • 4 Answers
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    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").
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    There are no blood tests that can provide a definitive diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Doctors diagnose fibromyalgia based on a person's medical history, symptoms and a physical examination that includes checking for areas of tenderness. However, blood tests can rule out other conditions whose symptoms might mimic those of fibromyalgia, such as an underactive thyroid.

    To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a person must have experienced pain in multiple areas of the body for at least three months and be bothered significantly by symptoms such as fatigue, poor sleep and difficulty thinking.
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    A , Neurology, answered
    Although fibromyalgia is more common in women, men can also be affected. Because fibromyalgia is generally thought of as a "woman's disease," it's often harder for a man to get diagnosed with fibromyalgia. An interesting study conducted at George Washington University and published in the journal Gender Medicine found that doctors who specialize in treating conditions such as fibromyalgia are less likely to diagnose it in men, often requiring more physical findings before they make the diagnosis than are required for women with the same symptoms. Among fibromyalgia symptoms, men tend to have fewer tender points and less fatigue than women.
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    A , Neurology, answered
    Unlike people with many other medical conditions, people with fibromyalgia have a good understanding about what to expect. A survey of almost 200 people with fibromyalgia found that they correctly understood the following:
    • Fibromyalgia symptoms will likely be chronic.
    • The symptoms are expected to fluctuate over time.
    • Fibromyalgia has a severe impact on physical, social, and psychological functioning.
    • People with fibromyalgia can do a lot to help control their symptoms.
    • Medical treatments are likely to be effective in decreasing symptoms.
    This understanding makes people with fibromyalgia open to treatment and appropriately hopeful that they can expect improvement. Unlike some other groups of people with chronic pain, those with fibromyalgia generally don't let negative emotions such as anger affect them.
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    A , Neurology, answered
    Before your visit to the doctor, spend some time thinking about your fibromyalgia symptoms, so that you are prepared to answer these questions:
    • What are two to four of your most troublesome symptoms, and how do they affect you and your daily routine?
    • What other symptoms do you experience often?
    • Where do you expect to have pain on different days -- which areas of your body?
    • When did your symptoms first start? Did they start within a short time of having a traumatic injury?
    • Does anyone else in your family have fibromyalgia or symptoms similar to yours -- mom, dad, sisters/brothers, or children?
    • How many hours do you typically sleep at night? Do you feel rested after sleeping?
    • Has another doctor diagnosed you with fibromyalgia? Do you know what tests were ordered?
    • What has been done in the past to treat your fibromyalgia? Do your symptoms interfere with work or school, or cause you to miss out on family activities?
    • Do you have other medical conditions or health symptoms?
    • What medications (over-the-counter, prescription, and natural remedies/supplements/vitamins) do you use? What do you take when you have a fibro flare?
    Answers to these questions will help your doctor make the proper diagnosis and start designing your individualized treatment program.
  • 6 Answers
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    To receive a fibromyalgia diagnosis, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has identified criteria to help doctors. You must have a history of widespread pain for at least three months. The pain may be in the left or right side of your body and above or below the waist. Also, the pain may be in the neck, front of the chest, middle of the back, and/or lower back. Along with this widespread pain, you must have pain in 11 of 18 trigger point sites. These are areas of localized tenderness that are far more painful or tender than the surrounding areas. Trigger points are often present at tendons, in the soft tissues over bones and in the muscles. 
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    A , Neurology, answered
    According to the Association of the Medical Scientific Societies in Germany (AWMF) fibromyalgia diagnosis quiz, if your answer is "yes" to the following questions, you may have fibromyalgia.

    Pain:
    • Have you had widespread pain for more than 3 months?
    • Does the pain affect your trunk, both arms, and both legs?
    Complaints over the previous 3 months:
    • Do you have problems with sleep?
    • Do you have problems with fatigue?
    • Do you have feelings of swelling or stiffness in at least one of these areas -- your hands, feet, or face?
    If you answered "yes" to both of the pain questions and all of the complaint questions, you may have fibromyalgia. You should see your doctor for a complete evaluation and diagnosis.
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    A , Neurology, answered
    If you feel that it has taken forever to get diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you're not alone. A study published in BMC Health Services Research found that it takes over 2 years for most people to get a diagnosis. This study evaluated the diagnosis of 800 people with fibromyalgia worldwide, and the results were fairly consistent -- so it's not just you, your doctor, or your health insurance. Getting the diagnosis takes a long time.

    Why does it take so long to get diagnosed? Interestingly, delays occur because most people with symptoms wait before they finally see a doctor. Then it takes quite a while to go through the testing process. In the survey described above, they found that:
    • People did not see a physician until they had symptoms for an average of over 11 months.
    • Two in five didn't tell their doctor about their symptoms sooner because they were afraid the doctor wouldn't take their complaints seriously.
    • Once people told their doctors they were having symptoms that might be fibromyalgia, it took an average of almost 2 1/2 years before a diagnosis was made. The average person with fibromyalgia saw three or four doctors before finally getting a diagnosis.
    If you're new to having symptoms that might be fibromyalgia, and it's taking too long to get a diagnosis, don't worry. The first step is to recognize that your symptoms are serious, treatable, and important to discuss with your doctor. While it may take a long time before your doctor is confident that you definitely have fibromyalgia, you should be able to start treatment to improve your health while the process is underway.