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Common Misdiagnoses of Fibromyalgia

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Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed by physical exam. People with fibromyalgia have a history of widespread pain with no evident cause that lasts three months or more. There are usually multiple tender points on the patient's body that are identified by applying pressure to these spots.

There is also a blood test that identifies markers produced by immune system blood cells in people with fibromyalgia. The test has been found to help distinguish fibromyalgia from other conditions that can have similar symptoms, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Getting a Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia

There are several important things to keep in mind when thinking about chronic, widespread pain:

  • Ongoing chronic pain that is widespread is not in your head. Pain is real and needs to be evaluated.
  • Keeping a journal of your pain symptoms will make it easier to talk with your doctor about the pain. It will help make sure the doctor has the information needed to properly evaluate your condition.
  • Consultation with a pain specialist (usually a rheumatologist) who is familiar with fibromyalgia can help diagnose or rule out fibromyalgia as a cause of the pain.
  • There are effective treatments for fibromyalgia that can reverse the debilitating effect of the pain and greatly improve a person's quality of life.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on June 03, 2013
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