Experts say that fibromyalgia is underdiagnosed. It can be difficult to diagnose because many of its symptoms are the same as those of other conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, underactive thyroid, Lyme disease, lupus, idiopathic environmental intolerance (formerly known as multiple chemical sensitivity). Fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed after other possible causes have been ruled out.
If you have fibromyalgia, you will need to work closely with your doctor to manage it. First, you need an accurate diagnosis. Then you need an effective treatment plan for your illness. A specialist can accurately diagnose the disease, and prescribe medication, physical therapy, and other treatments. In addition, a fibromyalgia doctor may become someone you can confide in when you have worries and anxieties.
To diagnose fibromyalgia, your doctor will take a thorough history and do physical and neurological exams. The doctor will also determine whether you have any tender points, the key distinguishing symptom of fibromyalgia. Some doctors still use older American College of Rheumatology guidelines that require a minimum of 11 out of 18 tender points for a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Newer ACR guidelines established in 2010 do not use tender points to make the diagnosis, but rather take into account the extent and severity of pain and symptoms.
Because of the difficulty in diagnosing fibromyalgia, it is best to see a doctor who is knowledgeable about the condition, such as a rheumatologist. Diagnosis is important because the earlier fibromyalgia is detected, the sooner you can make lifestyle changes to help reduce the symptoms.
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