Fiibromyalgia can be confused with many other conditions. In fact, you may see various doctors before a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made. Some patients report years of tests and seeing specialists before finally receiving a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This is because there are no tests (such as a blood or urine test, or even an X-Ray) that can determine if a person has fibromyalgia. Common diagnoses other than fibromyalgia include:
You should first see your family doctor if you suspect that you are experiencing fibromyalgia. As symptoms can vary greatly from one person to another, your doctor may perform tests in order to rule out a wide array of health problems such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, endometriosis, etc.) Keep records of your pains (type, what time of day, what type of weather, location of pain, etc.). When visiting a new doctor, provide full copies of previous tests. Your doctor will first evaluate your symptoms and then refer you to a rheumatologist.
The American College of Rheumatology recommends that 11 of the 18 'tender spots' on the body experience sensitivity to slight pressure and that there is widespread pain throughout the body for at least 3 months before a fibromyalgia diagnosis is made. However, even this criteria is being discussed extensively by experts.
No clear tests are currently used to diagnose fibromyalgia. Because this syndrome is easily confused with other illnesses, your relationship and communication with your doctor is important to determining if you have this syndrome. Doctors who communicate well may be especially helpful in explaining what they are looking for, and why. Even then, ask questions when being referred to a new specialist so that you can understand your doctor's thinking, and so that you can ensure that your doctor listens to you carefully. Good communication and an open relationship about your questions may allow for the proper diagnosis to be made.
Once a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made, you can begin treatment. Treatment of fibromyalgia focuses on managing the syndrome in order to participate in daily activities. To learn about the most common fibromyalgia treatments, read the Treating Fibromyalgia section that follows for more information.
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