31 Jan 2013

Fibromyalgia series : Getting a Diagnosis

The elimination Process:

There is no test to detect that the pain and symptoms you are having are fibromyalgia, if only it was that simple! The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is done through the process of elimination, as there are a lot of illnesses and conditions that also mimic the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. A few of these that you could be tested for are 
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / ME 
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Lupus
  • diabetic
  • Glandular fever and anemia (especially if you are a young woman)
  • thyroid disorders 
  • and many more
To help you and your doctor you should make a list of all your symptoms, from the most serious/common to the least, this is help during the diagnosis process. Many doctors go straight to trying to treat individual symptoms not realising that they are all part of one condition.

  • Blood Tests are usually the most common tests you will have to go through when in the diagnosis stage. Be prepared to have your blood tested for pretty much everything under the sun from Vitamin D and iron deficiencies to diabetes blood tests. 
  • You may have tests on your liver to rule out hepatitis.
  • Also there are arthritis panel tests and thyroid panel tests that you could have
  • Another common test is a simple chest xray usually just to check that everything is in order especially if you have been experiencing breathing problems or pains in the chest.
  • There are also other tests that could be carried out if these do not eliminate everything your doctor is unsure of ,but what tests you undergo depends highly on your personal symptoms, I have tried to cover the most common ones.
Physical / hands on examination:

When your doctor is sure that they have eliminated all other possible explanations to your symptoms and they believe it leads to Fibromyalgia  One of the main fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria is the presence of tender points (as shown on the diagram). For a diagnosis of fibromyalgia you have to have at least 11 out of the 18 tender points. Although we know (and doctors should too) that the tender points are not our only area's of pain, it has proven to be the most successful way to diagnoses a person with Fibromyalgia.

Being referred to other doctors: 

Your GP may believe that you would benefit from seeing a specialist to help you with your diagnosis of  Fibromyalgia and managing the pain/symptoms. They may refer you to any of the following
  • Rheumatologists diagnose and treat arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones. This includes fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, back pain, osteoporosis, bursitis, and tendinitis.
  • Pain specialists/pain clinic:  are usually board certified anaesthesiologists neurologists, psychiatrists, psychiatrists, or oncologists with additional training in pain management.
  • Neurologists diagnose and treat disorders of the nervous system. This includes treating common pain problems such as headaches, back pain, muscle disorders, Fibromyalgia, neuropathology.
  • Orthopaedists specialize in the diagnosis, clinical treatment, and surgical repair of bone injuries. They also treat muscle problems and joint tissues -- tendons, ligaments, cartilage.
  • Psychologists diagnose and provide therapy for problems associated with pain, perception, depression, and anxiety.
I hope this has been useful to you to read and that if you are currently looking for a diagnosis that you get one soon.
Also don't forget to leave your own personal tips or even your diagnosis stories below.

Thank you for reading
Take care

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