Video Q & A:

Diagnosing FM


How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

Expert:   Kenya Beard , ACNP-BC, Hunter College »

Curious as to how your doctor will diagnose your pain as fibromyalgia? Watch this to find out.

Transcript: Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be tricky. There’s not one conclusive test for the syndrome, and it often presents symptoms that are similar to those that characterize other conditions. In many cases, people living with fibromyalgia receive several misdiagnoses before the accurate cause of their full-body pain and fatigue is pin pointed. It’s very important to find a doctor that understands fibromyalgia and is willing to work with you to determine the cause of your pain. At the doctor’s, you will need to list your symptoms in detail, outlining such things as: * Continuous, wide-spread pain and stiffness of the muscles and joints lasting longer than three months. * Trouble falling asleep or being awakened by pain throughout the night *Bouts of depression and fatigue * Headaches and trouble concentrating *Digestive issues including diarrhea and constipation. Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia are somewhat similar to those of arthritis, chronic fatigue, depression and lupus, a common strategy is to test for these or other diseases, in order to rule them out. Your doctor may also call for a series of X-rays to look for swelling around your joints. If there isn’t any, then your condition is NOT arthritis. Blood tests may also be used to rule out kidney and liver abnormalities. After ruling out other serious medical problems, your doctor will determine if your symptoms meet several fibromyalgia criteria. Do you have widespread pain in all four quadrants of your body, accompanied by tenderness, and has it persisted for a minimum of three months? DO you have pain in at least 11 of 18 specific tender points? They are located on both sides of the body at your: * Elbows * Buttocks * Chest * Knees * Lower back * Neck * Rib cage * Shoulders * And thighs. Because about a quarter of fibromyalgia patients do not have that many tender spots, the doctor may have you evaluate the location and intensity of your pain using what are called the widespread pain index, or WPI, and the symptom severity scale, or SS. Using these pain scales, a patient may be diagnosed with fibromyalgia if the widespread pain index score is 7 or greater and their symptom severity scale score is 5 or greater, or they have a WPI of three to six and a SS scale score that is greater than nine. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain the findings from the physical exam and any additional testing. With your new understanding of the syndrome, you will be able to build a treatment plan that works for you. More »

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