A diagnosis of fibromyalgia is often given when doctors are unable to find another cause for chronic widespread body pain. But many fibromyalgia suffers are often told the pain is all in their heads. Now, discoveries about the potential cause of fibromyalgia, along with a new test to diagnose fibromyalgia, could offer relief to millions — the vast majority of whom are women. If you have fibromyalgia, you’ve likely experienced frustration when trying to find a treatment that works to alleviate body pain, fatigue, brain fog, and more. And, you might experience the additional blow of family, friends, and even doctors telling you that your symptoms are psychosomatic.
“Fibromyalgia patients tend to be stressed, tense, anxious, ambitious, and sometimes depressed. Some fibromyalgia sufferers describe themselves as perfectionists,” Stanford Medicine reported. “They may also suffer from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or migraine or tension headaches. Physicians who dismiss their patient’s complaints as being ‘all in the head’ can also make symptoms worse.”
More and more evidence has emerged about how the body and brain work together, and how a communication breakdown between these two systems can contribute to chronic pain conditions. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have identified an underlying condition that could play a role in illnesses like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome, according to a study published in the journal Current Pain and Headache Reports. Additionally, another study published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice reported that a new test could more effectively differentiate fibromyalgia from other chronic pain conditions.
New Screening Can Effectively Diagnose Fibromyalgia
The study from the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice was conducted to help primary-care physicians become more skilled at correctly identifying fibromyalgia. According to the study, half of all primary-care providers from the U.S., Asia, and Europe did not know how to diagnose fibromyalgia. The screening method, which involves using achilles tendon pressuring in tandem with inquiry about widespread body pain, can help doctors determine if a chronic pain patient might have fibromyalgia in less than one minute.
Being able to get a fast and accurate diagnosis can save chronic pain suffers years of tests and uncertainty. “Because of the many different symptoms it may present, fibromyalgia can be challenging to diagnose,” Fibromyalgia News Today reported. “The process often takes two to three years and three to four evaluations by different medical teams to reach a correct diagnosis.”
If you’ve seen Gaga: Five Foot Two, then you know that Lady Gaga did not receive her fibromyalgia diagnosis for five years. This new screening method is meant to speed up that process. According to Fibromyalgia News Today the study used three clinical measures — blood pressure (BP) cuff‐evoked pain, digital palpation evoked pain, and a single question about “persistent deep aching” — to indicate fibromyalgia.
“The study found that patients with fibromyalgia showed significantly greater sensitivity to digital pressure and BP-evoked pressure pain compared to patients with chronic pain but no fibromyalgia,” Fibromyalgia News Today noted. “When questioned about deep ache, more fibromyalgia patients responded positively than the other groups of participants. Additional analysis showed that patients who had right Achilles tenderness and who endorsed the deep-aching question had an 11 times greater chance of having fibromyalgia.”
The study concluded that patients who receive a positive diagnosis need a follow-up exam to confirm whether or not they have fibromyalgia.