Wondering if your chronic pain and other symptoms might be fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia is often called an "invisible illness" since those affected look healthy on the outside yet are suffering.
Getting an accurate diagnosis can provide relief and allow proper treatment. Here are some insights on recognizing fibromyalgia and getting diagnosed:
Signs and Symptoms
The hallmark of fibromyalgia is chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain lasting over 3 months that cannot be explained by other conditions. Additional key symptoms include:
- Fatigue, lack of energy, and flu-like malaise
- Nonrestorative sleep and insomnia
- Cognitive dysfunction - "fibro fog"
- Anxiety, depression, irritability
- Sensitivities to temperature, noise, bright lights
- Numbness/tingling, headaches, TMJ pain
- Abdominal discomfort, IBS, pelvic pain
The severity of pain and additional symptoms may fluctuate, with flares coming and going. Symptoms often begin after a physical trauma, intense stress, or a medical condition. Many patients also have related conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or IBS.
Since there are no definitive diagnostic laboratory or imaging tests for fibromyalgia, diagnosis relies on a careful clinical evaluation by a doctor familiar with the condition.
- Medical history - discussing onset and evolution of pain, triggers, other symptoms
- Physical exam - identifying tender points and ruling out other issues
- Symptom review - evaluating severity of fatigue, sleep and mood disorders
- Excluding other causes - thyroid problems, inflammatory arthritis, polymyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome
Early diagnosis is important to guide treatment. Keeping a symptom journal and being prepared to clearly describe your health history and symptom experiences to a doctor can aid getting an accurate fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Some helpful links..