Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
The disorder seems to amplify painful sensations, making the person with the disorder overly sensitive to even the slightest pain stimuli. It’s believed that the pain centers of the brain and the spinal cord in someone with FM process the signals very differently and small discomforts are processed as debilitating pain. In most cases the symptoms usually start after a particularly traumatic physical encounter, an infection or during a time of intense psychological stress. In other cases symptoms are accumulated over time without an event that triggers it. Because the symptoms of FM are so subjective, it can be hard to diagnose because of a lack of any sort of standardized testing method, it is often misdiagnosed and many people spend years suffering before relief is found.
Not everyone body pain all over will have a diagnosis of FM. Patients who fear that they have FM would need to see a rheumatologist who would then verify that they do indeed have FM, but only after all other diseases and disorders have been eliminated. The issue here is that often other pain disorders mimic the symptoms of FM. Disorders such as TMJ, IBS and IC are often similarly symptomatic with no obvious physical causes, and the diagnosis that a patient gets will also greatly depend on the type of specialist they see.
The American College of Rheumatology (ARC) has set up guidelines and specific physical tests for diagnosing FM. The baseline for testing is a persistent widespread pain all over the body for at least three months, which should include both sides of the body as well as above and below the waist. Waking up tired and having trouble thinking, as well as not having any other disorders or diseases that may cause the underlying symptoms.