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How Is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

A woman holding her head in pain

For those who have been wondering if the symptoms they are experiencing are those of fibromyalgia, working toward getting a real diagnosis is probably going to feel fairly important.

But here is the challenge with that.

Even though we've learned much more about fibromyalgia in the past few years, many healthcare providers still struggle to give their patients a diagnosis of fibromyalgia for a variety of reasons.

Why is this the case?

For many individuals in the healthcare profession, providing a clear fibromyalgia diagnosis is often difficult, since there is no real blood test to determine that a patient truly has fibromyalgia.

Yes, there are some different diagnostic tests, but many doctors and other healthcare personnel don’t always use these as effectively as they could.

There is also the issue that many fibromyalgia patients will experience the widespread pain associated with the disease, but oftentimes they all present differently, and the pain tends to not always be consistent from patient to patient.

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In fact, even in the same person, the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia can vary throughout any period of time, so pinpointing exactly where it is and how severe it is can be incredibly problematic.

Luckily, there are some ways that you can work towards getting the fibromyalgia diagnosis you need.

It just may mean you’ll have to practice more patience than normal and work hard to find the person who will help give you the professional medical advice you so desperately need to get your fibromyalgia symptoms under control.

Let’s look at some various ways you can help your healthcare providers to understand your symptoms better and help find the solutions you need to get back to living the life you deserve.

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What Is Fibromyalgia?

Before we can begin to talk about the ways that fibromyalgia can be diagnosed, we need to have a clear understanding of what exactly makes up fibromyalgia so you will have a firm grasp on what to share with your doctor or other medical professionals.

Fibromyalgia is best described as a disorder that is part of the family of musculoskeletal and skin diseases.

Similar to other muscle and soft tissue disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, most people who suffer from fibromyalgia tend to present with symptoms like widespread pain, jaw pain, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and emotional stress that is brought on by the multitude of other symptoms that a fibromyalgia sufferer experiences.

Though there is no cure for fibromyalgia and there isn’t even a great way yet to diagnose it, the disease is quite common and affects over 3 million people every year in the United States.

There have also been some substantial observational studies done on the disease that have helped treat fibromyalgia and allow patients and their caregivers to be able to understand the disease a bit more.

Not only are over 3 million people diagnosed with the condition every year, but it seems that more women than men are affected by it.

It also seems to be more prevalent in women between the ages of 35 years old and 50 years old, though a person can develop symptoms of it at any time.

The other important thing to note is that – even though there isn’t a cure – it is a lifetime condition.

Masaging the back of a woman with back pain

Once someone is diagnosed with fibromyalgia, they may be able to work to keep the symptoms at bay, but they will likely not go away altogether.

There are, however, more options than ever before to help those who are suffering from this unpleasant and often debilitating disease.

How Can I Get a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis?

Knowing that your symptoms are all pointing in the direction of fibromyalgia is only part of the battle. 

Once you know that there is a name for what you are experiencing, it can be a huge relief.

But – then getting others to also believe it can oftentimes be more complicated.

The reasons for this are frustrating, but pretty clear.

Because fibromyalgia doesn’t fit into a normal diagnosis, many medical professionals will have a hard time convincing themselves that what you are experiencing is, in fact, fibromyalgia.

Even worse, there have been many healthcare providers who go a step further and suggest to their patients that their symptoms may be more “in their head” than anything else.

Walking into your healthcare provider’s office armed with as much information as possible will help make your experience more pleasurable and will hopefully help them to take your symptoms seriously.

It will also show that you’ve done your research and have put in the time and effort to find out all you can about your symptoms and what could be causing them.

Here are some of the tactics that you can use to help encourage your medical professionals to think carefully and critically about your symptoms and whether or not they could all be the result of fibromyalgia affecting your body.

Test for Other Diseases

One of the more popular ways to now test for fibromyalgia is to do tests on patients that will rule out other diseases.

Though not all will adhere to this, some doctors diagnose fibromyalgia based on what disease their patient doesn’t have.

Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and other muscle disorder diseases are able to be diagnosed by a series of blood tests on a patient, since many people who struggle with these diseases also experience similar symptoms to the other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.

These chronic pain disorders can often be confused with fibromyalgia, so ensuring that a patient isn’t experiencing one of those diseases can be an important part of the initial diagnosis.

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After a physical exam, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to run a series of blood tests to make sure that your symptoms aren’t hiding something else.

Chronic pain can be due to any number of things. So, too, can skin diseases, cognitive symptoms, sleep apneas, and all sorts of other supposed fibromyalgia symptoms that may actually be the result of something else.

Getting a physical exam and thorough workup is going to help you and your physician at least rule out that something else is causing your discomfort.

A lady experiencing body pain

Getting a physical exam and thorough workup is going to help you and your physician at least rule out that something else is causing your discomfort.

And – whether you’re dealing with widespread pain, generalized pain, or more acute pain, the Symptom Severity Scale should be able to give both you and your physician a better idea as to what needs to be done next in order to get your fibromyalgia symptoms under better control.

Ask for a Widespread Pain Index

Another diagnostic test that can be performed if you are trying to obtain a fibromyalgia diagnosis is the Widespread Pain Index.

The WPI will target specific areas of your body that your provider should push on and then ask you about.

These are specific areas on a fibromyalgia patient’s body that are known to be chronically painful for fibromyalgia sufferers and can be used to determine not only how intense your pain is, but if it’s also consistent with the similar symptoms that are usually associated with fibromyalgia.

Some of the tender points that are used to conduct the widespread pain index and attempt to diagnose fibromyalgia are at the back of your knees, the base of your neck, in your lower back, the front of your chest, the tops of your shoulders, and your upper hips.

These are just a few of the most common fibromyalgia trigger points. There are 18 in all.

After applying gentle pressure to each of these points, your doctor or healthcare professional should have a better idea of how severe your pain is, once the numbers are added and they can come up with a Widespread Pain Index score for you.

Again, not all medical professionals are good at performing these tests. Some either don’t know of them or don’t believe in them.

But if you can find a caregiver who understands the importance of treating a person’s fibromyalgia like the serious disease it is, then you are going to be way farther down the path to finally finding the relief you need from your fibromyalgia symptoms.

Native Formulas is a site for and about people who are struggling with fibromyalgia and are trying desperately to find support and understanding.

Check out our Restore 3:

Because there is so much misinformation about fibromyalgia, and so many patients who are left frustrated because of the lack of support they are receiving, Native Formulas was created to help end some of the mystery associated with this terrible disease.

You don’t have to experience your pain symptoms on your own.

And you don’t have to continue to suffer in silence.

Check out our Restore 3 Fibromyalgia, Candida, and Gut Biofilm Program

There is a whole community here that can help you learn to manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia in the appropriate way while also working to achieve your diagnosis of fibromyalgia once and for all.


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