Fibromyalgia, a chronic health condition that is characterized primarily by widespread pain throughout the body and fatigue, is notorious for being difficult to diagnose. There are two main reasons why a person must jump through seemingly endless hoops to finally arrive at a fibromyalgia diagnosis:
Since these two factors can muddy the waters, finally arriving at a fibromyalgia diagnosis is the culmination of many months of describing your symptoms and receiving various tests so that different health conditions can be ruled out. Not only does this take time, but it also takes a significant investment of effort and finances. Shockingly, it can take several years for a patient with fibromyalgia to receive a proper diagnosis.
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If you live with fibromyalgia, you likely know all too well the taxing process of going from doctor to doctor looking for answers. It can take a long time to go from living with the day-to-day symptoms of fibromyalgia to actually receiving a definitive diagnosis. Even with healthcare professionals who are very familiar with the condition, a proper diagnosis can take time, which can be extremely frustrating. If you or a loved one suspect you may be dealing with fibromyalgia, here are some steps you are likely to encounter on your journey towards getting the right diagnosis and care:
A provider who has fibromyalgia experience will be listening for specific symptoms and terms during your conversations with them. The most common fibromyalgia-related symptoms include:
For many years, the presence of certain tender points throughout the body was indicative of fibromyalgia. A total of 18 tender points in the neck, upper back, mid-back, shoulders, chest, elbows, buttocks, hips, and knees are assessed for pain and tenderness. If 11 of the 18 points are tender when pressure is applied, it would point to a fibromyalgia diagnosis. However, in 2010, the guidelines for diagnosing fibromyalgia shifted away from looking for these tender points because they were too subjective. Fibromyalgia symptoms can come and go, and practitioners were uncertain about how much pressure to apply when examining tender points. Newer diagnostic criteria are more inclusive of other symptoms aside from pain, including fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, and cognitive difficulties.
When it comes to fibromyalgia, it is essential to exclude other potential causes of your symptoms. The most common fibromyalgia symptoms mimic those of other culprits:
Testing for some of these other health issues takes time, but it is important to rule them out so that you can receive the care you need to see improvements.
One of the major difficulties of diagnosing fibromyalgia is that there is no definitive test for it. This makes it a diagnosis of exclusion, and as we mentioned above, some other health issues may need to be ruled out first. Tests and examinations you may go through leading up to diagnosis include:
As new science emerges, researchers may be close to developing a blood test that can detect certain “molecular fingerprints” that are unique to fibromyalgia sufferers.
Whether you’re still on the road to diagnosis and suspect you have fibromyalgia, or if you’ve been living with it for many years, there is hope to be found with upper cervical chiropractic care. In complex, chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, treatment is typically aimed at mitigating individual symptoms. Upper cervical chiropractic care is unique in that it takes into account the central nervous system – the master control system for the entire body – and seeks to address the individual as the whole rather than chase down symptoms.
When the upper neck is compromised (many people living with fibromyalgia have a past history of injury or trauma), it can impair the normal communication and processing of pain signals. When the atlas vertebra is out of alignment, it can irritate the brainstem and surrounding nerves. You can think of the brainstem as the switchboard for all of the signals traveling between the brain and body. When it is not functioning correctly, your body may mistake non-painful stimuli as being tender or painful.
The process of fibromyalgia diagnosis is difficult, but getting to the root cause of the problem doesn’t need to be. Many people with fibromyalgia who have sought out the care of an upper cervical chiropractor have experienced tremendous increases in their quality of life and a diminishment of their symptoms. To learn more about how we can help you get back on track naturally, take a moment to locate a practitioner near you, and schedule an obligation-free consultation.
The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.