A new definite Blood Test Could Lead to Early Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia

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FM is a very real biological condition

For too many years, people with fibromyalgia have been forced to deal with medical professionals, family and friends who don’t believe fibromyalgia is a real medical illness.  Gradually over the past 15 years, more and more people, including doctors, have accepted the fact that FM is a very real biological condition – helped in large part by the FDA’s approval of three drugs to treat FM.

Even though fibromyalgia is a common condition, it’s very challenging to diagnose. Diagnosis can be a lengthy process of ruling out other diseases and medical conditions. This process could even take years for some people. In the past, fibromyalgia hasn’t had a specific diagnostic test.

However, some doctors and researchers think they may have found one in the FM/a test. Let’s take a look at current methods of reaching a diagnosis of fibromyalgia as well as the FM/a test.

A simple new blood test

“We’ve got really good evidence of a test that could be an important aid in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia patients,” says Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, a professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University and senior author of a study being published next month in the journal Analyst.

In a small study at Ohio State, researchers used a high powered infrared microscope to identify a pattern of molecules in the blood that is unique to fibromyalgia patients. That pattern a biological “fingerprint” of fibromyalgia was then tested in a blind study against blood samples from patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.  The blood test confirmed, with 100% accuracy, which patients had fibromyalgia.

Medicare and some private insurers now pay for the FM/a fibromyalgia test. EpicGenetics offers assistance to determine if your insurance covers the test.

EpicGenetics, a lab in California developed this new blood test

The truth is that not very many laboratory tests are very effective at diagnosing fibromyalgia.  But recently a new blood test has been conducted that is supposedly very accurate when diagnosing fibromyalgia, manufactured by EpicGenetics, a lab in California. 

This blood test is supposedly able to diagnose fibromyalgia by identifying markers in the blood cells that would only be there in people who have fibromyalgia. The cost of this blood test is very expensive, running under $1,000, and most insurance companies will not cover it either.  Before simply walking in and taking the blood test, you should always consult with your doctor first.

 

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Difference between depression, other chronic pain conditions and fibromyalgia

In the discussion portion of the study, it was noted, “Chronically depressed patients are characterized by higher pro-inflammatory cytokine blood levels and lower anti-inflammatory cytokine levels in blood, and similar to what has been found in patients with chronic pain. Decreased IL-10, IL-1? And IFN Production by mitogen-stimulated PBMC was observed in depressed patients who correlated with our findings.”  The question is, would this test be able to distinguish between depression, other chronic pain conditions and fibromyalgia?

Previous investigations

Before this blood test came about, doctors attempted to (and still do) diagnose fibromyalgia using physical tests, such as identifying tender, sore points on your body.  The doctor will then run a few more tests to make sure that the condition you have is not more serious than fibromyalgia. There were also blood tests that doctors would run too, such as ordering a complete blood count and measuring red cells and white cells, as well as tests in your liver and kidney.  However, none of these tests were very definitive in diagnosing fibromyalgia. Some blood tests your doctor may order to rule out other conditions include:

Complete blood count

This test includes a count of your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It also tests the amount of hemoglobin in your blood.

Thyroid hormone tests

These tests measure how well your thyroid is working and can help your doctor diagnose hypothyroidism.

Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test

This test determines if you have these types of antibodies and can help your doctor diagnose RA.

C – reactive protein test

This test looks for a substance produced by the liver that is a marker for inflammation.

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate test

 This test examines how quickly red blood cells settle in the bottom of a test tube. It can help your doctor diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica.

The new blood test by EpicGenetics is being hailed as the first definitive blood test for diagnosing fibromyalgia

The new blood test by EpicGenetics is being hailed as the first definitive blood test for diagnosing fibromyalgia, and can also yield the complete tests to you in just under a week.  The blood tests look for protein molecules in your blood stream.  These molecules are produced by white blood cells.

People who have fibromyalgia will typically have fewer of these protein molecules in their blood stream (and subsequently have a weaker immune system as well).  These immune system biomarkers can be found in people with fibromyalgia, but they can also be found in people with other diseases as well. But usually, only fibromyalgia patients will have a low level of these protein molecules, which the EpicGenetics blood tests look for. 

There are patterns that show people with some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia but who also have high enough levels of these protein molecules probably don’t have fibromyalgia.  Today, this blood tests detecting and revealing the levels of these protein molecules in the blood stream is believed to be over ninety percent accurate.

Conclusion

Finally, we have to keep in mind that this was just one study.  Studies need to be replicated before they they can be accepted as absolute scientific fact.  Just a little over three years ago, we thought that the cause of ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) was discovered when a study found the retrovirus XMRV in ME/CFS patients. 

A test to detect XMRV was quickly brought to market.  Unfortunately, after many additional studies, the original findings were retracted. Hopefully, this study and test will hold up to further testing that includes other cohorts in addition to healthy controls.  Only time will tell.

For support and Discussion join the group “Living with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Illness”

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Reference: 

Blood Test Could Lead to Early Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia via National Pain Report

Featured Image : via Red Orbit

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