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Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia syndrome, also otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome, is a disorder which is characterized by pain and fatigue. The pain in fibromyalgia can be experienced all over the body and may intensify due to certain triggers.

The causes of fibromyalgia have not yet been conclusively found. There are several theories which link the disorder to sleep problems, genetic material, and microbial infections. However, none of the studies to find the causes of fibromyalgia have reported anything conclusive.

Fibromyalgia is also very difficult to diagnose as most of its symptoms overlap with other rheumatic conditions. There are no specific tests for fibromyalgia, which makes it even more difficult for doctors to diagnose the condition.
The diagnostic criterion of the disorder follows what is known as the fibromyalgia diagnosis codes.

Research into the disorder has shown that most people suffering from this disorder meet several medical professionals and get treatment for several different conditions before the real cause of their symptoms is diagnosed. Since the symptoms of the disorder are very similar to medical conditions like cancer and arthritis, the doctors usually eliminate other potential causes of the symptoms before they reach a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Since there are no specific tests to confirm this disorder, the fibromyalgia diagnosis is largely based on fibromyalgia symptoms. The standard laboratory tests are unable to reveal the cause of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Therefore, without any diagnostic test fibromyalgia has to be established. Unfortunately, a lot of doctors end up concluding that the patient’s symptoms are only psychological.

The American College of Rheumatology has established some basic criteria for a fibromyalgia diagnosis. The first criterion is the presence of widespread pain in the body which lasts more than three months. The second criterion is that there is a presence of tender points throughout the body. The pain experienced in this case is only considered widespread when it is experienced in the four quadrants of the body. This means that there should be pain in both the left and the right side of the body for it to be considered a symptom of fibromyalgia.

There are 18 sites on the body, which are considered to be tender points of the body. For a person to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the person must experience pain in at least 11 of these tender points. These tender points are pre-designated areas on the body. Any such area is considered tender only if there is pain when a pressure of more than four kilograms is applied. A person may have pain in any number of areas on the body. However, the person must have pain in these standard pressure sites. These sites include the neck, upper shoulders, lower back, buttocks, thighs, elbows, wrists and knees.

Fibromyalgia Diagnostic Test

For a fibromyalgia diagnosis, the doctor first examines the medical history of the patient and discusses the history of the pain, trying to corroborate the areas of pain with the tender points on the body. Once that is done, the doctor runs several tests in order to eliminate disorders like HIV infections, cancer, cervical problems, and rheumatoid arthritis. If the results of these tests are found to be inconclusive, further testing may not be taken up. Instead, the doctor will try to understand the symptoms that you have been experiencing. Some of the common symptoms that help doctors diagnose fibromyalgia are memory impairment, dizziness, excessive menstrual cramping, cognitive malfunctioning, irritable bowel syndrome, morning stiffness, sensitivities experienced on the skin especially towards chemicals, tingling sensations or intermittent numbing, pain in the jaw, sleep disorders, fatigue, and chronic headaches. It these symptoms are present along with widespread pain in the tender points, the doctor will make a fibromyalgia diagnosis and prescribe fibromyalgia medication.

Submitted on January 16, 2014