Fibromyalgia cannot be confirmed using imaging tests or through tests in a lab. It does require a skilled rheumatologist to diagnose the symptoms and then come to the conclusion that a person is suffering from the condition. The same could also be done by a neurologist or a general physician who has experience in treating patients suffering from fibromyalgia.
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has updated their criteria to diagnose fibromyalgia and they consider the following points:
- The duration for which the pain lasts
- The perception of pain the person has, knowing the fact that the psychology of the person plays an important role in this condition
- The distribution of pain
ACR has designated certain criteria based on evaluation as discussed below:
- Widespread Pain Index (WPI)
To monitor pain, the body is segregated into 19 sections. Each section is considered an area for the character of pain. The doctor may ask you if you have experienced pain in each of these areas in the past week. If your answer to any of the questions is a yes, a score of 1 is assigned and registered.
The doctor may also ask you about the character of your pain. For example, he may ask you if your pain was severe, mild, or throbbing. He may even ask you the exact places where you had experienced pain. These points are called trigger points.
After the above analysis, your body is evaluated from top to bottom in 19 sections, which are the probable pain areas. Each point where the pain is identified is given a score of 1. This means the maximum score may be 19. The 19 points are inclusive of the following parts—left jaw, right jaw, neck, left shoulder girdle, right shoulder girdle, right upper arm, left upper arm, so on and so forth.
- The triple S Scale or SSS (Symptom Severity Scale)
This diagnosis is done by a specialist doctor, usually a rheumatologist, who has experience with fibromyalgia and is an expert in musculoskeletal diseases and autoimmune disorders.
The scores range from 0 to 3. Here 0 means no symptoms have been observed and 3 means the symptoms are of a very serious nature. These are assigned to each character symptom of the condition and a maximum that a person may attain is 12.
The four symptoms that are evaluated under SSS are listed below:
- Feeling dizzy or not fresh after waking up from sleep
- Frequently feeling tired or losing stamina
- Physical sensations such as fainting, nausea, bowel disorders, or excruciating pain
- Confusion, weak comprehension or disorientationExcluding conditions that coexist with fibromyalgia or have symptoms similar to it
The issue in diagnosing fibromyalgia is that it occurs with symptoms that might indicate that the person is suffering from the disorder whereas the actual results could show that the person has a completely different issue. The symptoms may, at times, be misleading and overlapping as well. Be very sure that the clinician chosen by you is experienced, has a good repute in treating patients suffering from fibromyalgia, and has a fine eye for making distinctions between symptoms.
The other diseases whose symptoms fall under the category of psychological, physical, and digestive issues include:
- Addison’s disease
- Illness anxiety disorder (IAD)