Fibromyalgia | Diagnosis & Tests

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How will my doctor diagnose fibromyalgia?

At your appointment, your doctor will ask about your personal and family medical histories. Be sure to tell your doctor whether any members of your immediate family have ever had similar symptoms or have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Your doctor will also need to know what medicines, vitamins or supplements you are taking.

He or she will ask about your symptoms and how long you have had them. It’s very important to give your doctor a clear, detailed description of your symptoms. Before going to your appointment, write down a complete list of the problems you’ve been having. Be sure to describe exactly what type of pain you have (for example, whether the pain is dull or sharp) and where you have been feeling pain. Tell your doctor whether your pain comes and goes, and what makes you feel better or worse.

If you have had any trouble sleeping or fatigue, tell your doctor how long you have had this problem. Your doctor may ask whether you have been feeling anxious or depressed since your symptoms began.

Your doctor will also perform a physical exam. This may include applying pressure to the tender points on your body. Your doctor may run tests (for example, blood tests) to be sure you don’t have one of the other conditions that have symptoms similar to fibromyalgia. Your doctor will also want to be sure that there isn’t anything else causing your pain.

Is it hard to diagnose fibromyalgia?

Unfortunately, it can take years for some people who have fibromyalgia to get a correct diagnosis. This can happen for many reasons. The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are pain and fatigue. These are also common symptoms of many other health problems, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, hypothyroidism and arthritis. Currently, there is no laboratory test or X-ray that can diagnose fibromyalgia.

It may take some time for your doctor to understand all of your symptoms and rule out other health problems so he or she can make an accurate diagnosis. As part of this process, your family doctor may consult with a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in pain in the joints and soft tissue).

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 07/13
Created: 09/00

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