How do you get tested for fibromyalgia? You might be wondering that if you have a sneaking suspicion that the pain you are feeling are a sign that you have fibromyalgia. Of course, getting a doctor to tell you whether or not you have fibromyalgia is actually much harder than you think for a few reasons.
And even knowing when it’s time to get tested for fibromyalgia can be tricky. So let’s talk about some of the symptoms that let you know when it’s time to go to a doctor. And let’s answer the question “how do you get tested for fibromyalgia” so that you’ll know what to expect.
When Should You Get Tested For Fibromyalgia?
One of the things that make fibromyalgia hard to diagnose is that the symptoms are often sort of non-specific. Things like fatigue and pain are common with so many different conditions that a doctor won’t have much of an idea about where to start if you tell him those are your symptoms.
That’s why it’s important to look for some of the specific symptoms that mark fibromyalgia apart from other diseases. Here are some of the things you should consider if you think you have fibromyalgia:
Chronic Fatigue. Feeling tired is perfectly normal. I would bet that most of us who are out of childhoods don’t remember a time when we weren’t at least kind of tired, right? But someone with fibromyalgia isn’t just tired. They are fatigued to the point where getting out of bed or thinking clearly is next to impossible. And this lasts more than just a few days. This kind of fatigue affects someone with fibromyalgia for months. So if you’ve been feeling this level of fatigue you may have fibromyalgia.
- Pain in Specific Places. Someone with fibromyalgia feels an intense pain that may be one of the worst symptoms of the disease. But while they may feel like they hurt everywhere, in fact, their pain is located in some very specific places. See, there are 18 points of pain associated with fibromyalgia. These are located on both sides of the body at the base of the neck, the elbows, the collar bone, the hips, lower back, the knees, the upper back, the shoulders, and the sternum. If your pain is clearly located at these specific points it is evidence that you have the condition.
- Pain at a Specific Intensity. While it may seem difficult to put a number on the pain you are feeling, doctors use a pain scale to determine your level of pain. The pain of fibromyalgia is ranked at somewhere between a 6 and 7 out of 10 on the scale. This is described as being so severe that it dominates your thinking, making it impossible to ignore. In addition, the pain is so severe that it limits your ability to live independently and carry out daily tasks. If you have had this level of pain for at least three months you may have fibromyalgia.
- Your Doctor Has Ruled Out Other Possibilities. There is a host of other conditions that create these sorts fo symptoms. Things like Lyme Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or central nervous system sensitization can create the sort of general pain that we associate with fibromyalgia. You doctor will likely want to perform tests to rule out these other conditions before diagnosing you with fibromyalgia.
How Do You Get Tested For Fibromyalgia?
So how do you get tested for fibromyalgia? Well, for starters your doctor will look for these symptoms. If they are all present, the doctor will then begin testing to make sure that your pain is located in 18 points. They do this by pressing their thumb into the points. Fibromyalgia pain is sensitive to pressure, so the doctor’s thumb will make the pain worse. If the pain gets worse when pressed in at least 11 of the 18 points then you likely have fibromyalgia.
At that point, the doctor may order blood tests to make sure that you don’t have any other conditions that produce similar symptoms. If you test positive for all of these symptoms and they can say with certainty that you don’t have another condition, the doctor will diagnosis you with fibromyalgia.
The next step, of course, is to begin finding a treatment that works for you. And if you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, make sure you look for support. Fibromyalgia is an isolating condition to live with and extremely frustrating to try to treat. You will likely need a wide support network to be able to manage life with fibromyalgia. Luckily there are lots of support resources you can turn to. Just remember, even if you have fibromyalgia, you aren’t alone.