Here are some of the Fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria challenges that people face in their life before knowing about fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia can present a real diagnostic challenge. It is characterized by chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain, severe fatigue, unrefreshed sleep and a sense of difficulty concentrating and remembering information.
Fibromyalgia Diagnostic Criteria Challenges
Fibromyalgia waxes and wanes with flares of symptoms that can last days to months. It’s characterized by symptoms that migrate. That means that they move from one area of the body to another, causing the person affected by the symptoms to stay ever vigilant of new symptoms that prevent enjoyably and fully functioning,
Symptoms can be frightening. For example, they may make you feel as though you’re having appendicitis due to severe abdominal pain or a heart attack from fibromyalgia chest pain. You may become dizzy and unsteady and fear a brain tumor or some other catastrophic health problem. These symptoms often lead people to their doctor’s office or the emergency room in any number of expensive tests that all come back normal.
Fear Turns Frustration
Fear quickly turns to frustration by the lack of an answer to explain their very real symptoms unaware if it meets fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria or not.
Million Dollars with No Answers
I saw a patient recently who was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She told me that she spent a million dollars last calendar year on medical tests and specialists. All in an effort to find out what was wrong with her. She did not realize that she is meeting fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria.
You may see rheumatologist, neurologist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, pain medicine physicians and on and on. Sometimes you may see two or three of the same kind of specialists because none of them give you a satisfactory explanation of what is wrong.
It Makes you Feel Nuts
All the while you continue to feel awful, exhausted, hurting and unable to participate in your life as you did before. It turns out that fibromyalgia is not a remote illogic disorder. It’s not an inflammatory disorder or an autoimmune disorder. However, rheumatologists are often the best specialists to the diagnosis because fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria or symptoms can overlap with many symptoms of other rheumatologic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or even fibromyalgia and lupus have similarities.
Once the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made, a Rheumatologist is no longer needed for your care. A good primary care physician is the best person to partner with, to help you manage this disorder. But first, you need a plan to address this disorder in a structured way. Well, there’s no cure for fibromyalgia at this time.
Research is moving forward at a rapid pace. Scientists and physicians are learning more each day about fibromyalgia. In the meantime, many effective strategies can help you manage fibromyalgia and improve your quality of life.
Things to Help
These strategies can help improve your functioning. It can help you return to the activities that were a part of your daily life. The life before you started to struggle with pain and fatigue. This is the key getting back to your life after you know you met fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria. We want to help you regain your functioning and return to the activities and joy that used to be your life before fibromyalgia.
Dr. Barbara Bruce (Pain psychologist and the clinical director of the fibromyalgia treatment program at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Florida)