A Diagnosis You Can Bank On
Second opinions are important when it comes to being diagnosed with a medical condition such as fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is an incurable condition that could bring about several other life complications as well. Though medical professionals often disagree about this condition and whether or not it is a disease it is still important that one seeks out an accurate diagnosis. If a diagnosis is inaccurately made than the patient is forced to suffer longer than necessary, to avoid such frustration if you feel you are suffering from symptoms of fibromyalgia seek the care and attention of a medical professional so an accurate diagnosis can be made and a treatment plan put into place.
What Goes Into Diagnosis?
The reason that you are strongly encouraged to seek medical attention quickly is partly due to the tedious process that goes into a diagnosis. In the past the individual seeking diagnosis must have to endure intense pain for at least three months before a medical professional would have taken the next steps to try to diagnosis fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia and its symptoms are similar to Lupus as well as various forms of arthritis so taking the steps needed to diagnosis fibromyalgia can help speed up the treatment process.
The pain associated with fibromyalgia is body wide pains and may start in one location on the body and then spread. The body begins to experience painful sensations in what is called “tender points”. Tender points are located in areas where soft tissue is had so in areas like the knees, elbows, shoulders, shins and even the buttocks. Pain is felt in the joints, muscle and tendons. Besides the aching body other areas of life can be affected by this painful condition. In order for you to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia you must be experiencing pain in at least 11 out of 18 tender spots for at least three months. Tender Spot locations would include:
- Rib Cage
If the primary physician is still unsure of whether or not you the patient is suffering from fibromyalgia he or she might perform a tender point test.
Tender Point Test
During this process, a doctor applies firm pressure to each of the 18 tender points along with control points. Tender points are located on both sides of the body and both above and below the waist. The tender points are concentrated in the neck area. With four tender points on the front and six tender points on the back making up a total of 10 in one general area. Other tender points are found close to, but not on the joints. There are tender points near each elbow, near each knee and four are located near the pelvis and hips.
What are tender points?
Tender points are surface areas that seem to be just under the surface of the skin. These points hurt when just light pressure is applied. The doctor will watch for the patient to flinch or pull back when pressure is applied. The sizes of the tender points are around the size of a penny. They are much more sensitive than the areas surrounding them.
How are tender points tested?
Doctors will test all of the tender points along with other points, also known as control points, and study the patient’s reaction. The control points are designed to makes sure that the patient does not react to those as well. The doctor can use his hand or a doximeter/dolorimenter. The instrument can greatly assist in providing the correct amount of pressure.
New way to diagnose
Since fibromyalgia is a diagnosis that is based on the symptoms, there is no laboratory test or X-ray that diagnoses it. The new in office test takes a widespread pain index coupled with a symptom severity scale should help lead to more diagnoses and treatment. The pain index is a 19 item checklist. The possible fibromyalgia sufferer marks the number of body parts when pain has been experienced during the last week. The symptom scale puts together the three most complain about symptoms, un-refreshing sleep, fatigue and cognitive issues. These symptoms are rated on a scale of zero to three.
In the past, the tender points test has seemed very unreliable because of the constantly changing pain of fibromyalgia. At times, fibromyalgia sufferers may not have 11 of those 18 tender points that are tender. They also may not experience the widespread body pain consistently for three months in a row. The other concern about the tender points test is doctors trying to figure out the amount of pressure that is needed to be used on the tender point. The biggest concern for doctors however, is that the tender points can change over time.
The new test is actually effective in diagnosing fibromyalgia without any physical exam. The symptoms of fibromyalgia are important and that is what this condition relies upon to diagnose.
According to research, the tender points test was actually not ever designed to be a diagnostic test for fibromyalgia. It was designed more as a guideline to assist doctors in diagnosing.
Overall, it seems that this diagnostic test will be able to treat more potential fibromyalgia sufferers in learning what exactly is causing them so much pain and fatigue.