Experts say that fibromyalgia is under diagnosed. It can be difficult to diagnose because many of its symptoms are the same as those of other conditions, such as systemic exertion intolerance disease (formerly called chronic fatigue syndrome), underactive thyroid, Lyme disease, lupus, idiopathic environmental intolerance (formerly known as multiple chemical sensitivity). Fibromyalgia is often diagnosed after other possible causes have been ruled out.
Many people with fibromyalgia continue to work full or part time. But the chronic pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia often make working very difficult. If you are employed, it's important to learn about managing fibromyalgia symptoms and coping with pain and fatigue. In addition, if you have tried different jobs and are unable to work, you might consider applying for disability. Disability may be difficult to get, however, because of rules about work capacity.
To diagnose fibromyalgia, your doctor may do a blood test. This test identifies markers produced by immune system blood cells in people with fibromyalgia. It can also help distinguish fibromyalgia from other conditions that can have similar symptoms. He will also take a thorough history and do physical and neurological exams. The doctor will also determine whether you have any tender points, a key distinguishing symptom of fibromyalgia.
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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