Fibromyalgia: Understand the diagnosis process

Fibromyalgia symptoms often mimic those of other conditions. Determining the true cause of your symptoms is key to receiving proper treatment.

Fibromyalgia symptoms include widespread body pain, fatigue, poor sleep and mood problems. But all of these symptoms are common to many other conditions. And because fibromyalgia symptoms can occur alone or along with other conditions, it can take time to tease out which symptom is caused by what problem. To make things even more confusing, fibromyalgia symptoms can come and go over time.

That’s why it can take a long time to go from fibromyalgia symptoms to a fibromyalgia diagnosis.

No specific test for fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia can’t be easily confirmed or ruled out through a simple laboratory test. Your doctor can’t detect it in your blood or see it on an X-ray. Instead, fibromyalgia appears to be linked to changes in how the brain and spinal cord process pain signals.

Because there is no test for fibromyalgia, your doctor must rely solely on your group of symptoms to make a diagnosis.

In the American College of Rheumatology guidelines for diagnosing fibromyalgia, one of the criteria is widespread pain throughout your body for at least three months. “Widespread” is defined as pain on both sides of your body, as well as above and below your waist.

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