How to Test Yourself for Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia symptoms include widespread body pain, fatigue, poor sleep and mood problems. But all of these symptoms are common to many other conditions. And because fibromyalgia symptoms can occur alone or along with other conditions, it can take time to tease out which symptom is caused by what problem.

To make things even more confusing, fibromyalgia symptoms can come and go over time. That’s why it can take a long time to go from fibromyalgia symptoms to a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose fibromyalgia, but there are certain steps you can take to evaluate your own probability of having fibromyalgia.

1. Keep a daily log

Keep a daily log of how much, how often, and where you hurt. Make sure to note whether there are any activities that specifically trigger the pain or whether it’s a constant, widespread hurt.

2. Severe fatigue for last three months

Wonder if you have CFS or fibromyalgia? If you have had severe fatigue or widespread pain lasting over three months without an obvious cause, and if you also have insomnia, then you might have chronic fatigue syndrome and/or fibromyalgia.

3. Measure your progress over time

Look back on your log weekly and monthly. In order to fit the first of the American College of Rheumatology’s two criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia, you must have experienced widespread pain for at least three months. You probably don’t need a daily pain log to know that you’ve been hurting for a long time, but if you’re unclear about how constant or widespread the pain has been it offers a way of recording that, and lets you look back on and measure your progress over time.

4. Apply pressure on the tender points

Apply pressure with the pad of your thumb to the 18 “tender points” associated with fibromyalgia. See Resources for a link to maps of these points. Hold the pressure for four seconds, then rank the pain associated with the pressure on a scale from zero to 10, where zero represents no pain at all and 10 is the worst pain you’ve ever experienced. If you felt pain in at least 11 of the 18 tender points tested, you fit the second of two criteria for having fibromyalgia; you should see a medical professional for further evaluation and treatment.

5. No specific test for fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia can’t be easily confirmed or ruled out through a simple laboratory test. Your doctor can’t detect it in your blood or see it on an X-ray. Instead, fibromyalgia appears to be linked to changes in how the brain and spinal cord process pain signals. Because there is no test for fibromyalgia, your doctor must rely solely on your group of symptoms to make a diagnosis.

6. Pain when pressure is applied

Pain Do you feel a constant widespread dull pain that seems to originate in your muscles? (This pain occurs on both sides of the body, above and below the waist.) Do you experience pain when pressure is applied to the following tender points: * Back of the head * between the shoulder blades * Top of the shoulders * Front sides of the neck * Upper chest * Outer elbows * Upper hips * Sides of hips * Inner knees Are you stiff upon waking in the morning? Do you frequently feel a tingling sensation or numbness in your hands and feet?

7. Medical History

Medical History Do you have a history of any of the following that may explain your recent symptoms: A medical condition, life change or new stressor? A psychiatric condition with psychotic features, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, organic dementia, anorexia or bulimia nervosa, Alcohol or substance abuse within 2 years of the appearance of the initial symptoms

8. Shoulder pain

In addition to the neck and upper back areas, pain in the shoulders can specifically indicate fibromyalgia when tender points are located between the edge of the shoulder and the base of the neck. In fibromyalgia patients, individuals experience body aches and stiffness that may progress and become worse at night, while others have consistent pain all day long. 

9. People often wake up tired

People who have fibromyalgia also often wake up tired, even after they’ve slept continuously for more than eight hours. Brief periods of physical or mental exertion may leave them exhausted. They may also have problems with short-term memory and the ability to concentrate. If you have these problems, your doctor may ask you to rank how severely they affect your day-to-day activities.

Other symptoms

Have you begun to experience at least four of the following over the past three to six months: Frequent, severe headaches? Recurring or chronic sore throat, Painful lymph node areas under your arm or in the neck, Muscle pain or general muscle discomfort, Difficulty sleeping, Problems with cognitive skills such as memory or thinking (commonly referred to as “fibro fog”) Pain in different joints at different times as if it were “traveling” from one joint to another (migratory arthralgia).

Additional symptoms may include painful menstrual periods, irritable bowel and bladder, restless legs syndrome, dry eyes and mouth, depression, anxiety, tinnitus, dizziness, vision problems, Raynaud’s Syndrome, neurological symptoms and impaired coordination.

Knees and feet pain

The inside of the knee area is a tender point for those with fibromyalgia. The tender point’s specific to this medical condition may feel like a deep ache. They can also present as a shooting, burning pain. Since the joints themselves are not affected, the pain can be confused and feel like it is radiating from the joints when, in fact, it’s not coming from there at all, Fibromyalgia is painful, but it does not actually damage the body’s tissues.

You may also experience paraesthesia which is a numbness, tingling, or swelling sensation. Paraesthesia can occur in upper and lower limbs but especially affects the feet. For some fibromyalgia sufferers, the pain lasts only minutes but for others, it can last for hours or even days.

 

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Reference: via livestrong

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