Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in adults often include widespread body pain, muscle pain, muscle aches or spasms, headaches, sore spots, joint pain all over, chronic fatigue, poor sleep, and mood problems like fibro fog, anxiety or depression.
A Fibromyalgia diagnosis can be very tricky because of the fact that all of the symptoms can and sometimes do mirror other diseases and disorders. The diagnosis process can often be a long one. Physicians generally try and rule out other conditions as there is no test for Fibromyalgia. It’s not going to show up on a blood test or on an x-ray.
Because it is an unseen disorder, it has been said that it might not even be a legitimate disorder. Of course, those affected by the disorder know that their pain is real. If your diagnosis process is taking longer than you thought it would, the best thing to do is track your symptoms, keep seeking help, be your own advocate and don’t get frustrated. There are doctors out there who can and will help you.
Ruling Out Other Conditions
Because Fibromyalgia is so hard to diagnose, other conditions are generally ruled out. Body pain can be caused by many other conditions, most often ones like rheumatoid arthritis or even lupus. Believe it or not, depression and anxiety can cause or lead to pain, body aches, lack of sleep, fatigue and moodiness. Some of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia also mirror symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
It’s best to prepare yourself, when facing a diagnosis, for a variety of tests to rule out other conditions. Physicians want to be sure they are treating the right disorder or disease. While this can be a frustrating process, most doctors really do want what is best for their patients so try to hang in there. Blood tests, neurological tests, as well as physical exams of your muscles and joints may all be required.
Some of these tests take multiple doctors, trips and can be booked days apart. Don’t get discouraged. Just remember at all times that you are working towards fully understanding and treating your pain.
Describing Your Symptoms
Because there is no Fibromyalgia test, doctors rely on patients to describe their symptoms. Once other underlying conditions have been ruled out, the general test or way doctors decide on a Fibromyalgia diagnosis is through asking questions.
Wide Spread Pain
Generally a person must have experienced widespread pain throughout the body for at least three months. This includes both sides of the body and above and below the waist. Other Fibromyalgia symptoms including chronic fatigue, poor sleep and cognitive issues will also generally have been persistent.
The problem with Fibromyalgia pain relief is that most people say it waxes and wanes. There used to be a test for sore spots and a physician may still use this test but a Fibromyalgia diagnosis and treatment is not based solely on sore spots being pressed as a person might have them one day and not the next.
Your physician may ask if you have experienced a traumatic event in the recent past or past, either mentally or physically as Fibromyalgia is sometimes triggered by these events. Some studies show a link between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Fibromyalgia.
A Genetic Link
There may be a genetic link involved with Fibromyalgia. It’s important to mention to your doctor if you have a family member who has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
A physician may ask if you have any other symptoms that accompany Fibromyalgia. These include depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, painful menstrual cycles, painful urination, painful intercourse, headaches or migraines or facial pain.
Track Your Symptoms
If you can, it might be helpful to track your symptoms daily and keep a record. Also, your physician may ask you to rate your pain, your level of exhaustion and the severity of your symptoms. It may be hard to keep a clear record or be sharp during this time, especially if you are experiencing severe pain, chronic fatigue and/or brain fog.
You could keep daily notes about how you feel and everything you experienced. It will really help to show this to your doctor.
After your doctor is able to give you a diagnosis, a fibromyalgia treatment plan can then be explored. Often times treatment is a team effort which may require lifestyle changes, dietary changes, other doctors like naturopaths, acupuncturists, physical therapists and nutritionists. There are natural ways of dealing with the symptoms or prescription medication or a variety of both. These will be explored in a later article. The best thing to remember is that while there might not be Fibromyalgia cure, you can live a happy, healthy life and find ways to deal with, manage and lesson your pain.