Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose. Many of the symptoms are similar to other disorders. A history and physical exam will be done. Your doctor will discuss your pain symptoms and check for tender (trigger) points. Tender points are areas of pain throughout your body. Symptoms of chronic and widespread pain must be present for more than 3 months. The doctor will also discuss how much fatigue, waking unrefreshed, and thinking problems you are having.
Testing for Tender (Trigger) Points —According to criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology, there are 18 specific tender points around the body that are potentially painful when palpated in people with fibromyalgia. These points are located around the neck, shoulder, chest, hip, knee, and elbow regions. Most healthy people have only a few tender points.
A diagnosis of fibromyalgia is usually made if 11 of these 18 points result in pain when palpated.
Blood Tests —Blood tests cannot identify fibromyalgia. However, your doctor may order these tests to rule out other illnesses that have similar symptoms, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other musculoskeletal disorders.
Diagnosis. Fibromyalgia Network website. Available at: http://www.fmnetnews.com/fibro-basics/diagnosis. Accessed August 8, 2013.
Diagnosis. National Fibromyalgia Association website. Available at: http://www.fmaware.org/about-fibromyalgia/diagnosis. Accessed August 8, 2013.
Fibromyalgia. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Fibromyalgia. Updated February 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.
Fibromyalgia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 15, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.
Fibromyalgia. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Fibromyalgia/default.asp. Updated August 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.
Last reviewed September 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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