Fibromyalgia Diagnosis, What Are The Criteria?
Fibro symptoms vary and it can take time to get a fibromyalgia diagnosis.
It is generally a case of eliminating other possible causes first.
What are the Criteria for a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis?
Obtaining a fibromyalgia diagnosis is almost always a case of eliminating other causes. Fibro symptoms are very similar to other autoimmune disorders such as lupus, multiple sclerosis or thyroid problems.
Your doctor will perform blood tests to rule out these conditions. Often they will say you are fine and it will take months or years to convince them you are not fine!
At present there is no laboratory test for fibromyalgia. Blood work typically comes back perfect, x-rays look great.
The established criteria for obtaining a diagnosis of fibromyalgia are;
- Pain in all four quadrants of your body lasting more than 6 months.
- Pain in 11 of the 18 fibromyalgia tender points when pressed
- Light headedness, dizziness, fuzziness
- Insomnia/sleep disorder
- Morning stiffness
- Skin sensitivity
- Chemical sensitivity
- Cognitive and/or memory impairment
- Joint and muscle pain
- Numbness and tingling of hands and feet
- IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
Fibromyalgia symptoms vary on a daily basis. You could see your doctor on a ‘good’ day and only experience pain in 8 of the 18 tender points. This won’t necessarily rule out a fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Most doctors us common sense. Mine only tried a few of the tender points and when I mentioned they were still hurting after he had moved on to other points, he stopped testing them. As he said he was only inflicting more pain on me when he had already confirmed the diagnosis.
There is a lot of controversy over fibromyalgia disorder. Many doctors still disbelieve fibro exists! They feel we need our heads examined and that it is a psychological problem, or that we are drug seeking.
Others believe a fibromyalgia diagnosis is an umbrella diagnosis and that doctors have failed to dig deep enough to find the under-lying cause. For most doctor’s a patient presenting with the signs and symptoms of fibro are a “heart-sinking” problem as there is little they can do but try various medications in the hope we will respond well to treatment.
The latter is the type of doctor you need to look for! We need a doctor that specializes in fibro, one that is knowledgeable about the illness and who will dig to uncover hidden causes.
Most family doctors and rheumatologists don’t have time to really explore our wide array of symptoms.
Rheumatologists are the specialists you should be seeing for your fibromyalgia pain management. Rheumatologists deal with rheumatic issues, joint and muscle problems and all autoimmune disorders.
If you are experiencing the symptoms noted above, please see your family doctor as soon as possible. If he cannot help with a diagnosis ask to be referred to a rheumatologist.
It took me 14 years to get diagnosed! I went from doctor to doctor. All said I was fine, my blood tests were great!
Finally, I asked to see a rheumatologist and my physician initially refused. I demanded an appointment and she had to relent but to this day, I remember her hurtful words. She said I was taking up his valuable time that a more deserving person needed! She obviously did not believe in a fibromyalgia diagnosis!
I waited a further six months for my rheumatologist appointment and he knew immediately from my symptoms what the problem was, but he still carried out a physical examination to confirm it.
The point is, do not do what I did! Don’t wait years and years to get diagnosed. Be proactive and insist on seeing a specialist to confirm or rule out your fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Once diagnosed with fibromyalgia, be proactive, it’s your body and you have the right to choose the best fibro treatment for yourself. Knowledge is power.