The American College of Rheumatology has established two criteria for making a fibromyalgia diagnosis: a history of widespread pain lasting for longer than three months and the presence of tender points on the body. While there is no single lab test that can be used to diagnose this condition, blood tests or certain imaging tests can help rule out other conditions.
How Is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?In order to make a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, the healthcare provider will begin by asking a number of questions. This will include questions about:
- Your symptoms
- Any medical conditions that you have
- Any medicines that you are currently taking
- Your family history of medical conditions.
He or she will then perform a physical exam looking for signs of fibromyalgia or other conditions that share similar symptoms with fibromyalgia.
Criteria for Diagnosing FibromyalgiaUnfortunately, there is no single lab test that can be used for diagnosing fibromyalgia. However, certain tests may be recommended to help rule out other conditions. These may include blood tests or certain imaging tests, such as x-rays.
Because there is no generally accepted, objective test for fibromyalgia, some healthcare providers unfortunately may conclude that a patient's pain is not real, or they may tell the patient there is little that can be done about it. However, a healthcare provider who is familiar with fibromyalgia can make a diagnosis based on two criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology:
- A history of widespread pain lasting more than three months. Pain must be present in both the right and left sides of the body as well as above and below the waist.
The presence of tender points. The body has 18 sites that are possible tender points. For a fibromyalgia diagnosis, a person should have 11 or more tender points. To be deemed a tender point, pain must be felt when pressure is applied to the site. People who have fibromyalgia may feel pain at other sites, too -- but those 18 sites on the body are used for diagnosis.
Dots Indicate Possible Locations of Tender Points
(Image courtesy of the National Institutes of Health)