Diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be a challenging task since its symptoms can mimic or be associated with many other health conditions. Nevertheless, fibromyalgia diagnosis is carried out purely on clinical grounds, depending on the patient’s physical examination and doctor’s history.
To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you must have had at least three months of persistent pain as well as pain and tenderness in at least 11 out of 18 tender points. These tender points may include:
- Lower back
Also, before you are diagnosed with this syndrome, the tender points must be analyzed through a digital palpation with about 4 kg of pressure. During this analysis, the pain points are pressed and the patient has to state whether the sensation is “painful” or “irritating.” If the patient feels an unbearable pain rather than a mere irritation in most tender points, then he/she may be suffering from fibromyalgia disorder.
Your doctor may also inquire about your stress levels, sleep disturbances and fatigue. No definite x-rays or blood tests are used during the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Other tests such as thyroid functionality, rheumatoid factor, cyclic citrullinated peptide test, erythrocyte sedimentation rate and a complete blood count may be conducted to rule out other possible medical conditions.
Medical Conditions that May Mimic Fibromyalgia
As aforementioned, there are numerous health conditions that may share the same signs and symptoms as fibromyalgia. Some of the medical conditions that may mimic fibromyalgia syndrome include:
- Infectious diseases such as Epstein Barr Virus and hepatitis
- Hypercalcemia (elevated blood calcium)
- Bone disease that causes bone pain such as Paget’s disease
- Muscle diseases such as Polymyositis that cause muscle pain
- Parathyroid disease
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels).
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Once all the diagnostic tests are carried out comprehensively, the physicians use the following three criteria to determine, without a shadow of doubt, whether you are suffering from fibromyalgia:
- The patient has been experiencing pain for more than three months.
- The pain has been widespread in all four quadrants of the body i.e. the pain should be axial, be experienced on both sides of the body, as well as areas above and below the waist.
- There is no other disease that may be causing the symptoms.