Diagnosing Fibromyalgia Is Time Consuming
Fibromyalgia is a condition that is characterized by multiple tender points, widespread body pain, fatigue and depression. The widespread body pain is only a characteristic of fibromyalgia if it has been experienced for a minimum of three months. Widespread body pain is characterized by pain both above and below the waist while occurring on both the left and right side of the body. While each sufferer encounters different struggles and symptoms these few are the foundation of the condition. Many doctors use a tender points test to help diagnose fibromyalgia.
Tender points localized areas of tenderness close to but not on the joints. Tender points can also be referred to as pain points. These areas of pain can cause a lot of pain when simply pressed on by a finger. While these intense areas of pain can cause deep pain, they are superficial areas that appear to be just under the surface of the skin. However, they are not a bump or spot on the skin. They are virtually undetectable unless they are being compressed.
Tender points are very small, and run about the size of a penny. The actual tender points are so much more painful than the areas that surround them that the simple pressure from a finger can cause a fibromyalgia patient to flinch and pull back. These tender points are located on the neck, back, chest, elbows, hips, buttocks and knees.
The exact cause of the tender points is unknown. Researchers and doctors both thought that these tender points would be in areas that were inflamed or be inflamed themselves. However, after a lot of time and research, they have not yet found the signs o inflammations in the tissues in or around the tender points. What they do know is that these tender points occur in predictable places on the body. They are not just randomly found on the body. This means that people who struggle with fibromyalgia many times experience similar tender point symptoms.
There are 18 tender points located on the body. They occur both above and below the waist and on the right and left side of the body. In order to receive a positive fibromyalgia diagnosis, 11 of the 18 tender points must be reacted to during the tender points test. During the tender points test, doctors will apply pressure to all 18 tender points and several control points. The control points are used to ensure that the patient is not suffering from another condition. The doctor can apply pressure with their finger or a medical instrument, a doximenter. This pressure can cause either fairly intense pain or no pain at all. What the doctor is looking for is a reaction, like pulling back or wincing.
Talking to the doctor
A doctor can only diagnose fibromyalgia based off of symptoms. While the tender points test seems like a good start, if the doctor doesn’t know that the patient is also experiencing depression or other fibromyalgia symptoms then they can’t diagnose. Even if the conditions seem unrelated, like not being able to fall asleep at night, they may actually be a symptom. Fibromyalgia is a condition that is experienced differently by every patient and can become worse with time or activities. Because of this, it is also a condition that mainly treated symptom by symptom.
There are numerous conditions that can make the pain and discomfort of fibromyalgia much worse. These conditions include anxiety, hormonal fluctuations, infections, and lack of sleep or restless sleep.
It is important to seek medical advice when experiencing wide spread body pain, fatigue and depression as these can be a serious underlying cause. Only a doctor can properly diagnose a condition and treat it. When seeking the advice of a medical professional it is important to talk to them about everything that is going on. That way they can properly diagnose and treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.