How do Doctors Diagnose Fibromyalgia?

photo courtesy of stockimages/
photo courtesy of stockimages/

There is no definitive test for fibromyalgia, so diagnosing the chronic pain disorder can be long process and cause a great deal of frustration. Doctors first must eliminate other conditions with similar symptoms, such as arthritis, depression and multiple sclerosis.

Fibromyalgia Risk

90 percent of fibromyalgia patients are women between 20 and 50 years old. But men can also get the condition. A family history of fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis can also increase your fibromyalgia risk.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

A doctor will look for these symptoms:

  • Pain: Fibromyalgia pain spreads all over the body, inhibiting movement. Patients often feel as if their joints were swelling.
  • Sleep problems: Fibromyalgia patients report feeling abnormally tired in the morning, as well as waking up frequently at night.
  • Fatigue: Fibromyalgia fatigue can range from mild to severe. Sometimes patients complain of a “brain fog” that makes it difficult to concentrate.
  • Weight gain: Fibromyalgia causes metabolic changes, which can sometimes cause weight gain.
  • Digestive problems: A frequent comorbidity of fibromyalgia include irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or acid reflux.
  • Other disorders: Rates of dizziness, depression, anxiety, chest pain and headaches tend to increase among fibromyalgia patients.

Fibromyalgia “Pressure Points”

Doctors need to find at least 11 locations on the body highly sensitive to pain. If even mild pressure triggering pain can help your doctor reach a fibromyalgia diagnosis.

Do you or a loved one have fibromyalgia? Consider joining Segal Institute’s clinical research studies on fibromyalgia.


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