The Symptom Intensity Scale

fibromyalgia diagnostic tests

The Symptom Intensity Scale is a fairly new diagnostic tool that is very quick and efficient. The test can be used to assess both regional pain and the fatigue a patient with fibromyalgia may be experiencing. This test has begun to replace older diagnostic tests for fibromyalgia syndrome.

The diagnostic tool measures the severity of the fibromyalgia syndrome over the course of several days through clinical practice and does not require that the tender points on a patient’s body be counted. When the tool is used, a questionnaire is used to measure anxiety, depression, and other personality disorders, so the diagnostic can be used to detect other clinical illnesses.

Fibromyalgia syndrome has some basis in abnormal sleeping patterns, high levels of stress, and abnormal or dysfunctional pain processing. The disorder is multifactorial and is best understood when it is examined through an inclusive biopsychosocial model instead of a limited biomedical model.

The syndrome affects between two and four percent of the population and holds the top spot on the most common rheumatology practice list by some measures. A diagnosis of the fibromyalgia disorder should be checked in at least ten percent of all patients of a primary care physician. Because how popular the disorder has become, diagnostic tests of the disorder have been in high demand.

The Tender Point Count

The tender point count, perhaps the most common diagnostic test for fibromyalgia, is argued as the best measure of pain severity for patients that may have developed fibromyalgia. The test is fairly simple to interpret. The higher the number of tender points a patient may have, the greater his or her psychological distress and the frequency of other fibromyalgia symptoms.

Virtually every person in the general population has at least a few tender points on their body, but for someone that is at risk of developing fibromyalgia or already has it, the tender point count will exceed eleven.

The Symptom Intensity Scale and What It Measures

The Symptom Intensity Scale is a diagnostic test that scales patients using a score that is comprised of two specific measurables. The first is the Regional Pain Scale score, which measures the number of anatomic areas that patient will feel pain. This score is rated on a scale of zero to nineteen. The second is the fatigue visual analogue scale score.

This scale score requires that the patient being tested make a mark at some point along a line that is ten centimeters long in order to indicate to the physician how tired he or she is feeling at the time of the test. The physician then measures the marked point from the end of the line with a ruler.

The Symptom Intensity Scale came from a survey that was sent to 12,799 people who had been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or the fibromyalgia disorder. This questionnaire queried that people on their pain levels in 38 anatomic regions, both articular and non articular, and asked them to complete the fatigue visual analogue scale mentioned above.

The developer of the questionnaire took note that the pain in nineteen typically nonarticular sites on the body was different than fibromyalgia syndrome when compared to the other two ailments or diseases. The nineteen pain sites were coined as the Regional Pain Scale and were measured by how many of the sites actually had pain in them.

When at least eight points on the Regional Pain Scale were combined with at least a six-centimeter measurement on the fatigue visual analogue scale, the best diagnostic of fibromyalgia syndrome was made available. This particular combination is now known as the “Survey Criteria.”

There are three arguments proponents of the Symptom Intensity Scale offer to opponents. These arguments provide a solid rationale for using the scale to investigate the biopsychosocial specificities in patients. The first is that the scale is very simple way to measure the overall health of an individual.

The second is that the scale can be used to uncover comorbid forms of depression.  The last argument, and arguably the best argument, is that the Symptom Intensity Scale can be used to detect the fibromyalgia syndrome in those patients that have other diseases and ailments.

The Symptom Intensity Scale is a solid measure of overall health. The scale is able to detect the fibromyalgia syndrome in a patient and helps to indentify individuals with various pain and distress symptoms that have trouble with fitting into models of other organic diseases.

The scale score has a very strong correlation to the pain, depression, and overall health of a patient, making it an ideal test for outpatient evaluations. This scale paired with a complete patient’s history chart and a physical examination works great to measure biopsychosocial factors.

Depression is usually not successfully discovered in patients being tested for rheumatoid arthritis. The initial diagnostic is actually overlooked more times than it is checked by a physician. Fibromyalgia patients and those been inflicted with systemic lupus erythematosus simultaneously usually have higher depression scores than those patients that suffered solely from systemic lupus erythematosus.

The Symptom Intensity Scale can be used to detect fibromyalgia by itself or in combination with other diseases a patient may be carrying. With this, the scale can then recognize the likelihood of depression in these patients. With the recognition and treatment of depression, patients can be helped in their efforts to improve their overall health.

Fibromyalgia syndrome is usually detected in patients with arthritic diseases, often changing the features or symptoms of those diseases in some way. Some studies have concluded that of a sample of people tested for rheumatoid arthritis, nearly eighteen percent of those people also had the fibromyalgia syndrome.

Because of these advantages, the Symptom Intensity Scale has become more and more prevalent amongst physicians when giving a patient a diagnostic test. The test can be completed in no more than two minutes. The scale is highly recommended by researchers and physician as a very appropriate and efficient way to provide an accurate diagnosis of the fibromyalgia syndrome for patients suffering from widespread pain.