Diagnosis

Tender points

Widespread pain index areas

Diagnosis

FMS is a difficult condition to diagnose but if you think you have it go and see your GP. In order to diagnose it there are other conditions that will have to be excluded first such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Your GP will probably ask you to have a blood test, a urine test and depending on your specific symptoms, you may also need Xrays or scans.

The FMS classification criteria, established by the American College of Rheumatology  in 1990, includes a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months, and pain in at least 11 of the 18 designated tender points when a specified amount of pressure is applied. Some GPs still use this.

However,  new criteria were developed by the American College of Rheumatology in 2010. These criteria do not use tender points but focus on pain being widespread and accompanied by other symptoms such as sleep problems, problems with thinking clearly, and fatigue.

The  widespread pain index (WPI) counts up to 19 general body areas in which the person has experienced pain in the preceding two weeks.  It is recommend that healthcare professionals should now consider the following features when making a diagnosis:

  • widespread pain lasting three months or more
  • fatigue and/or waking up feeling unrefreshed
  • problems with thought processes like memory and understanding (cognitive symptoms).

It is important that the doctor you see has experience of diagnosing FMS. Your GP may refer you to a specialist pain clinic for diagnosis and ongoing support.
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