Someone checking for a pain point like those commonly found with fibromyalgia.

How Is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed And Treated?

We’ve been looking at fibromyalgia recently and we’ve discovered that it has a long list of possible symptoms and that it’s hard for doctors to treat because they don’t know what causes this painful condition of muscle and bone.

So, How Is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

It’s going to be a challenging diagnosis to make, so please don’t expect to walk into your doctor’s office and walk out with a diagnosis two minutes later. If you get that, you might want to see another physician, fibromyalgia doesn’t work like that.

Your doctor is going to:

  • Walk you through your symptoms and your past medical history. They will be particularly interested in your family medical history too. That’s because fibromyalgia commonly occurs in families, if your mom or dad has it, it will increase the likelihood that you have it.
  • Rule out other conditions. Because they don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, the doctor has to rule out other possibilities before giving you a diagnosis. They’ll check for arthritis, lupus, thyroid problems, etc. which may mean blood tests and X-rays to help with the diagnosis.
  • User a scoring system for your symptoms. If they feel that the problem is fibromyalgia, there is a scoring questionnaire that doctors use to examine the symptoms and build a treatment plan.

Wait! That doesn’t sound very scientific.

I agree with you. Unfortunately, sometimes doctors have to do the best they can without all the information. Medical science does not know what causes fibromyalgia, so there has to be some educated guess work used on how to treat it.

The treatments they offer are based on things that have helped some fibromyalgia sufferers in the past.

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Prescribed Treatments For Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia pain can turn up nearly anywhere on your body.

So, keeping in mind that this is not a perfect science, what can your doctor do for you?

Firstly, many prescriptions for the condition are aimed at the individual symptoms. That means sufferers may be given any or all of:

  • Pain treatments. From ibuprofen to opioids. It is worth noting that opioids lose effectiveness in the long-term and may be habit-forming.
  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. We don’t know if depression and anxiety cause fibromyalgia or are a product of it, it doesn’t much matter for the moment – they still need treating.
  • Muscle relaxants. Muscle pain can be made better sometimes by relaxing the muscles.
  • Anti-insomnia treatment. If you can’t sleep, doctors are like to prescribe medication that may help you sleep better.

There are also three drugs that have been used specifically for pain for fibromyalgia sufferers:

  • Duloxetine (or Cymbalta)
  • Pregabalin (or Lyrica)
  • Mulnacipran (or Savella)

Now, it’s important to remember that not all of these treatments will work for all sufferers and they may have mixed impact on each individual symptom of fibromyalgia too.

Until medical science better understands fibromyalgia. It’s simply going to be “it’s complicated” when it comes to treatment.

It is, however, worth noting that there are other non-prescribed activities that you can do to help manage fibromyalgia and the pain associated with it. We’ll look at those next time.

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