Fibromyalgia is well-known for its difficulty when it comes to diagnosis. There is no specific test which gives a straight diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome and therefore it may take some time to get to the final answer. The symptoms of fibromyalgia are very similar to several other conditions and therefore it is important to be as specific as possible when discussing symptoms with the doctor, including the way in which they may be having an impact on daily activities, work and general day to day life.
Throughout diagnosis, you will be asked about your symptoms and how they affect you. Your body will be examined in depth to check for visible symptoms which may suggest other conditions, including arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome.
When your GP is clear that fibromyalgia may be a possibility the next stage is to start ruling out other conditions which could be responsible for the symptoms including chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. There are clear tests for these conditions including both urine and blood tests and also x-rays and MRI Scans. Sometimes, even when you are found to have another condition this doesn’t always rule out fibromyalgia.
Specific Fibromyalgia Criteria
For a diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome specific criteria usually have to be met. The most commonly used criteria, as outlined by the NHS, are:
– A similar level of pain / discomfort / symptoms in general for at least three months
– You have either severe pain in three to six areas of your body or milder pain in seven+ areas
– No other explanation for your symptoms has been found
The next stage of diagnosis is usually assessment of the extent of the pain through the application of pressure to certain ‘tender points’ on the body – this type of assessment isn’t as common as it used to be.
Alongside a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, many people also find themselves with other closely related conditions such as depression, anxiety or irritable bowel syndrome, although this may mean more testing and assessment.The diagnosis process isn’t quick or easy but once an answer is found, treatment can be sought.