Fibromyalgia has traditionally been diagnosed based on patient history and on physical examinations. The physician is typically looking for a changeable pattern of pain, widespread across the body, along with a sensitivity to touch. The presence of sleeping difficulties, stiffness, frequent headaches and other somatic symptoms can provide additional confirmation of the diagnosis. Many people will have been frustrated by a series of negative blood tests and imaging procedures that do not show a cause for their pain. Many doctors still question the legitimacy of the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, leaving the patient very discouraged.
More on Diagnosis
Because of the way that Fibromyalgia is diagnosed, and the fact that the symptoms could be attributed to so many different illnesses, diagnosing Fibromyalgia is difficult, and can sometimes take many years. This is made worse by the past lack of an objective test and the lack of recognition of Fibromyalgia as a ‘real’ diagnosis.
Fibromyalgia is often diagnosed through the exclusion of all other illnesses that can cause the symptoms being experienced by the patient. If the patient is still experiencing those symptoms after approximately six months they are then considered chronic.
In 2013 EpicGenetics, an American company, announced a new blood test, “FM/a”, that tested blood patterns of chemokines and cytokines and was 94% successful at identifying Fibromyalgia. There has been some controversy about this as there has not been much published work on this test. Additionally, for Fibromyalgia patients living outside the United States, EpicGenetics are the sole testing facility and the cost is over USD$700. Another issue not canvassed by EpicGenetics is the impact of a negative result on someone who has been living with Fibromyalgia for a long time.