If you’ve experienced widespread pain and you’re not sure what is causing it, there are many things you could be experiencing. One possible diagnosis is fibromyalgia. Diagnosing fibromyalgia has proven to be difficult for medical professionals. There is no clear way to pinpoint the disease. To better inform you about how fibromyalgia is properly diagnosed we’ve outlined the way doctors go about making these diagnoses.
First of all, there are no blood tests or x-rays that positively diagnose fibromyalgia. However, tests can be done to rule out all other diagnoses. Blood levels are acquired to rule out: hypercalcemia, hyperparathyroidism, and hypothyroidism. Alkaline phosphatase and CPK blood levels (a muscle enzyme) are taken to rule out Paget’s disease and polymyositis. Liver tests and a complete blood count are also taken and used to rule out hepatitis and other infections. Often times fibromyalgia can occur simultaneously with other rheumatic conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyositis, and polymyalgia rheumatica. Therefore, it’s likely your doctor will want to conduct blood tests to see if these conditions are also present. If these tests come back normal, the likelihood that you have fibromyalgia is high.
A doctor will use their knowledge based on your history and physical examinations to make a diagnosis on clinical grounds. People who suffer from fibromyalgia generally have chronic widespread body pain and experience this pain in at least 11 out of 18 classic tender points. The diagnosis will depend largely on how you feel. Even if you are experiencing pain in the tender points, you’ll still need to explain your pain to your doctor. The following is checklist of things your doctor will look for:
- Stress level evaluation
- Depression testing
- Evaluate tender points
- Ask about fatigue
- Ask about sleep disturbances
- Check for widespread pain
After your doctor gives you an evaluation, he will make a fibromyalgia diagnosis based on these three guidelines:
- There are no other diseases playing a role in the symptoms.
- Widespread pain is experienced in all four quadrants of the body.
- Pain has been present for three months or longer.
Because fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose it is important you are honest and detailed when explaining your symptoms to your doctor. Having patience during the process is another important aspect of fibromyalgia diagnosis. We hope by providing you with this guide on how this chronic condition is diagnosed, will help you begin a treatment plan for your chronic pain. Diagnosis is the first step in getting treatment.
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