Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain, sleep deprivation, Fatigue, and mood swings. On the other hand, these symptoms can be found in a wide range of illnesses. And because fibromyalgia symptoms can appear on their own or in conjunction with other health issues, it can be challenging to determine which symptom is caused by which condition.
Further complicating matters, the symptoms of Fibromyalgia can come and go. That's why a fibromyalgia diagnosis can take a long time from the onset of symptoms.
Changes in the brain and spinal cord's processing of pain signals appear to be associated with Fibromyalgia. As a result, your doctor would most likely base their diagnosis on your group of symptoms.
The American College of Rheumatology has updated its diagnostic criteria to include three months of widespread pain. If you're experiencing discomfort on both sides of your body and above and below your waist, you may suffer from "widespread."
Old Rules Required Tender Point
Tender points are areas of your body where you feel severe pain if you apply forceful pressure to them. Fibromyalgia used to be diagnosed in the past by finding soreness in at least 11 of these 18 spots.
As a result of the fluctuating nature of fibromyalgia symptoms, a patient may experience 11 tender points one day, but only 8 tender points the next. When conducting a tender point exam, many doctors are unsure of how much pressure they should apply during a tender point exam.
Specialists or researchers may still use tender spots, but your family doctor does not need to utilize them to diagnose Fibromyalgia.
Excluding Other Possible Reasons
Understanding if your symptoms result from a more serious underlying condition is critical. Among the most common culprits are:
- Rheumatic diseases: Rheumatoid arthritis Lupus and Sjogren's syndrome are two autoimmune diseases that can begin with widespread joint and muscle pain.
- Mental health problems: Generalized pain and aches are common in disorders including depression and anxiety.
- Neurological disorders: Fibromyalgia can induce numbness and tingle in some people, which mimics the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis in certain people.
Important Tests for Fibromyalgia
Your doctor may wish to rule out other disorders that share the same symptoms as your current problem. The following types of blood tests may be performed:
- Complete blood count
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
- Cyclic citrullinated peptide test
- Rheumatoid factor
- Thyroid function tests
- Anti-nuclear antibody
- Celiac serology
- Vitamin D
In addition to a thorough examination of your muscles and joints, your doctor may also do a neurological check to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing your symptoms. Sleep apnea can be diagnosed with a sleep study if your doctor suspects that you have it.
More Hints for Fibromyalgia Diagnosis
People with Fibromyalgia frequently wake up exhausted, even if they've slept for more than eight hours at a stretch. They may become weary after a few minutes of physical or mental exertion. These people may also be unable to focus on a task for an extended period. If you experience these issues, your doctor may ask you to rank how severely they impact your daily life. Fibromyalgia frequently coexists with other health issues, so if you're experiencing any of the following:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Pain in the jaw
- Depression or anxiety
- Painful urination frequently
Possible Reasons for Fibromyalgia
In certain situations, the beginning of fibromyalgia symptoms can be traced back to trauma, such as a car accident. Fibromyalgia is more common in those with post-traumatic stress disorder, so your doctor may inquire about recent stressful incidents.
Fibromyalgia involves a genetic component; therefore, your doctor may inquire as to whether or not any other members of your immediate family have suffered from the same symptoms.
Your doctor will better understand what is causing your symptoms if they have access to all of this information. That's essential to designing a successful treatment strategy.