Fibromyalgia is a neurologic condition that causes pain across most or all of the body. A neurologic condition is one that affects the nervous system. Fibromyalgia affects 2 to 4 percent of people. More women than men have the condition.
The primary symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
- pain or tenderness in muscles, joints, or skin from touch or pressure
- severe fatigue
- sleep difficulties
- memory difficulties
- foggy thinking
Even though fibromyalgia is a common condition, it’s very challenging to diagnose. Diagnosis can be a lengthy process of ruling out other diseases and medical conditions. This process could even take years for some people.
In the past, fibromyalgia hasn’t had a specific diagnostic test. However, some doctors and researchers think they may have found one in the FM/a test (FMa Test). Let’s take a look at current methods of reaching a diagnosis of fibromyalgia as well as the FMa test.
Quick Jump Table
Diseases Similar to Fibromyalgia
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are often similar to those of other conditions. Before your doctors considers a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, they’ll want to rule out these conditions.
The conditions that have symptoms that resemble fibromyalgia are:
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism means having an underactive thyroid.
- Polymyalgia rheumatica: Polymyalgia rheumatica causes aching and stiffness across the whole body.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): RA is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that affects joints and organs.
- Lupus: Lupus is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that affects the kidneys, brain, blood cells, heart, lungs, and sometimes joints.
These conditions can be diagnosed, or ruled out, through blood tests. Some blood tests your doctor may advise to rule out above mentioned other conditions include:
- Complete blood count. CBC test includes a count of your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It also tests the amount of hemoglobin in your blood.
- Thyroid hormone tests. Thyroid profile test measure how well your thyroid is working and can help your healthcare provider diagnose hypothyroidism.
- Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test. ANA test determines if you have these types of antibodies and can help your healthcare provider diagnose RA.
- C-Reactive protein test. This test looks for a substance the liver produces that’s a marker for inflammation.
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test. ESR test examines how quickly red blood cells settle in the bottom of a test tube. It can help your healthcare provider diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica.
If these tests are negative for these similar conditions, your doctor will start looking more at a possible fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Currently How Fibromyalgia Disease Diagnosed?
- Interviewing you about your specific symptoms and their severity.
- Checking the number of symptoms you have and the number of body regions that are painful.
- Advising blood tests to rule out similar diseases and conditions.
- Taking X-rays and scans to also rule out other diseases and conditions if indicated.
- Finding your widespread pain index (WPI) score.
What is the FMa Test?
There have been some promising studies on a possible blood test for fibromyalgia. It’s called an FMa test for fibromyalgia. FMa test collects plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in a small sample of your blood. It tests the concentration of cytokines within your blood sample.
Significantly lower levels of cytokines may be an indicator of fibromyalgia. Abnormal levels of cytokines have been linked to being a trait in people with fibromyalgia. Because of this link, researchers are hoping that the FMa test may prove to be a way to more definitively diagnosis fibromyalgia.
Limitations of FMa Test
The research that has been done up to this point does show promise that the FMa test may be able to diagnose fibromyalgia. However, more clinical trials need to be done before this test will be fully recognized as a diagnostic tool for fibromyalgia.
When the FMa Test advised?
There are some steps that you can take to help determine if you might have fibromyalgia. These steps are part of the diagnostic criteria and information that your doctor will need to know before being able to give you a correct diagnosis.
Gathering the right information before advising for FMa test, will help your doctor to better determine the next steps in your diagnosis. Some of the steps to test yourself are:
Keep a pain journal that answers these questions:
- Where does it hurt?
- How long does the pain continue?
- What activities were you doing, if any, prior to the start of the pain?
- How long have you been noticing your pain?
- Has it been present for more than 3 months?
Check the tender points and keep a sleep journal that tracks how rested you feel when you wake up and throughout the day.
After you collect these informations, if you think you may have fibromyalgia, it’s recommended that you make an appointment to see your doctor. He/She will ask you a number of questions. The informations you gathered in your journal will help you answer those questions.
The FMa test is still new and subject to research. Many doctors may not use it yet, and insurance companies most likely will not cover the cost. However, even with the FMa test, it’s likely that your doctor will still use the current diagnostic criteria as confirmation. Doctors are now much more familiar with fibromyalgia and its symptoms than they were in the past. Your doctor may also recommend that you get some information on possibly participating in a clinical trial for the FMa test. Originally published in Healthline.
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