The Pain Requires A Diagnosis
Pain without a diagnosis is just that – pain. Being diagnosed with a condition such as fibromyalgia must be done in order for any type of relief from this painful condition to be had. 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. Fibromyalgia has been linked to further complications such as sleep problems, fatigue, headaches, depression and even anxiety attacks which we will look at in another section.
There is no denying the physical and emotional affect that fibromyalgia can have on an individual; so if you are starting to notice changes in your physical and emotional state of being, it might be wise to speak to a medical professional about what type of testing is available for fibromyalgia. The most common form of testing to uncover a fibromyalgia diagnosis is through the tender point test.
The 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.
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.
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.
The New Process Of Diagnosis
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.