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Over 5 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition that causes widespread muscle tenderness and fatigue. Still, it is a disorder that’s rarely talked about. In fact, some people with chronic pain or soreness can spend years seeing doctor after doctor before finally being diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Part of the problem is that the symptoms of the condition can’t be seen and are difficult to describe. These symptoms also tend to come and go and sometimes are unpredictable.

When soreness is more than just a pain

Think you might have fibromyalgia? Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

If your doctor thinks your symptoms could be caused by fibromyalgia, he or she may diagnose the condition through a physical exam called a tender point exam. A questionnaire may also be used to help with the diagnosis. Finally, a lab test and x-rays may be used to rule out other health problems.

Understanding Fibromyalgia

Even though healthcare providers are still learning about fibromyalgia and what causes the condition, it’s important to know that there is a set of standards for diagnosing it. If you’ve been unable to pinpoint the root of your chronic pain in the past, consider talking with your healthcare professional about fibromyalgia. After all, the first step toward managing any chronic pain condition, including fibromyalgia, is getting the right diagnosis.

Andrew G. Clair, PhD was Senior Director within Medical Affairs during his time at Pfizer Inc.

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References

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  • 2. Wolfe F, Smythe HA, Yunus MB, Bennett RM et al. The American college of rheumatology 1990 criteria for the classification of fibromyalgia. Arthritis Rheum. 1990 Feb; 33(2): 160-172. doi: 10.1002/art.1780330203
  • 3. Arnold LM, Crofford LJ, Mease PJ, Burgess SM et al. Patient perspectives on the impact of fibromyalgia. Patient Educ Couns. 2008 Oct; 73(1): 114-120. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2008.06.005
  • 4. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Fibromyalgia: Questions and answers about fibromyalgia. Accessed August 28, 2013.
  • 5. Wolfe F and Hauser W. Fibromyalgia diagnosis and diagnostic criteria. Ann Med. 2011; 00: 1-8. doi: 10.3109/07853890.2011.595734
  • 6. Wolfe F, Clauw DJ, Fitzcharles MA, Goldenberg DL et al. The American college of rheumatology preliminary diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia and measurement of symptom severity. Arthritis Care Res. 2010 May; 62(5): 600-610. doi: 10.1002/acr.20140