Fibromyalgia

  • Medical Author:
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Fibromyalgia Overview Slideshow

Quick GuideFibromyalgia Causes, Diagnosis, Symptoms & Treatment

Fibromyalgia Causes, Diagnosis, Symptoms & Treatment

How do physicians diagnose fibromyalgia?

Physicians diagnose fibromyalgia based on the patient's symptoms, primarily widespread pain. Chronic widespread pain in the muscles and joints, in combination with fatigue and poor sleep, lead to the consideration of fibromyalgia. A physician will perform a thorough history and physical exam to exclude other illnesses presenting with similar symptoms.

There is no widely accepted blood test or X-ray test for fibromyalgia at this time. Any testing is done to exclude another condition. Tests for inflammation are generally normal in isolated fibromyalgia.

Usually multiple soft-tissue areas ("fibromyalgia tender points") are tender to palpation. However, not all patients are tender at the tender points. In general, females are more likely to be tender at the classic fibromyalgia tender points than males.

The American College of Rheumatology developed new guidelines to help diagnose patients with fibromyalgia. The new guidelines no longer require a certain number of tender points to be present to be confident that a patient has fibromyalgia. The new guidelines use pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia to aid diagnosis. Patient questionnaires to assist in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be found online.

What specialties of doctors treat fibromyalgia?

Rheumatologists, internists, family medicine doctors, pain-management doctors, physical-medicine and rehabilitation doctors, and primary-care providers all treat fibromyalgia. Health-care practitioners other than physicians are also frequently involved in the treatment of fibromyalgia, including clinical psychologists, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2016

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