Why Skeptics Question Fibromyalgia as a Real Disease
Given the wide array of symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, researchers, doctors, and even patients are skeptical about a Fibromyalgia diagnosis. Because the common symptoms like body aches, tender points, loss of sleep, depression, and chronic fatigue may belong to a variety of illnesses, skeptics question if fibromyalgia isn’t an overly vague blanket term used to lump all of these problems into a broad diagnosis. However, the pain patients experience from these symptoms cannot be imagined, regardless of the label given in a diagnosis.
In recent years, research seems to indicate fibromyalgia is indeed a real disease caused by low production of cytokine in the cells, but the theorized test has not yet taken hold in most medicine and more research is needed before it is thoroughly established as treatment. Because fibro can easily masquerade as other diseases, more research in general is needed in the medical community to distinguish between similar problems. Patients’ awareness of other similar diseases may also help doctors more accurately treat these symptoms by guiding the process to a more specific diagnosis.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia: Similar diseases and other common diagnoses
According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the key symptoms for a fibro diagnosis established by the American College of Rheumatology is “widespread” pain throughout the body lasting for at least three months. Widespread is defined as, “pain on both sides of your body, as well as above and below your waist” (Mayo Clinic).
Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, also carry this trait typical of fibro patients. Because of this similarity, one of the first steps doctors commonly perform when considering fibro is to test the patient for signs of lupus since it is more definitely (though not necessarily easily) diagnosed. Blood tests, urinanalysis, a possible visit to a rheumatologist, and checking the muscles and joints for stiffness, soreness, or weakness can be expected if lupus is a considerable possibility.
Bone crushing fatigue is another symptom of fibro, which is commonly found in other diseases. In addition to lupus, fatigue can be part of a wide array of other disorders, such as sleep apnea, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, hormonal disorders, hypothyroidism, and diabetes. Of these, hypothyroidism, diabetes, sleep apnea, and anemia can be diagnosed with fairly clear certainty. If fatigue is more prominent than pain, then one of these might be a more likely diagnosis than fibro and may be able to be treated easier.
Most of these diseases, including fibromyalgia, affect women many times more than men. Because of the statistical gender gap, male skeptics may believe women suffering from these symptoms are over exaggerated especially since these symptoms do not have an explicit appearance, such as a broken limb or more obvious physical conditions.