How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?
There are very definite symptoms that a doctor or rheumatologist uses in diagnosing Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Lupus, Lyme Disease or chronic illnesses. These are generally symptoms that one has been experiencing for months or even years.
The Mayo Clinic website gives the following symptoms for Fibromyalgia:
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Widespread pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist. The American College of Rheumatology designated 18 tender points (9 pairs) where a physician is to place pressure for 4 seconds to test the level of pain present.
Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
Other problems. Many people who have fibromyalgia also may experience depression, headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms
Here is the criteria listed by Mayo Clinic for diagnosing CFS.
Loss of memory or concentration
Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
Unexplained muscle pain
Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
Testing for Fibromyalgia
There is now an FDA approved lab test for Fibromyalgia called the FM/a test, produced by EpicGenetics. It requires a small amount of blood that is analyzed for chemokine and cytokine biomarkers, which have been found to be abnormal for those with Fibromyalgia.
Researchers at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago performed a study with fibromyalgia patients to study their immune system functions, comparing these to healthy patients. The study found that patients with fibromyalgia have depressed cell-mediated immunity. Prior to this, fibromyalgia was thought to be a hyperactive or overactive immune disorder. After two years of testing fibromyalgia and healthy patients, they found unique immune system patterns — in other words, a compromised or dysfunctional immune system as opposed to an overactive one.
Dr. Bruce Gillis, part of a research program at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago who performed this study and CEO of EpicGenetics, stated:
“The results that were uncovered via our research have finally been able to “tear back the curtain” and reveal that there is a specific pathway in fibromyalgia – and it defines fibromyalgia as an immunologic medical disorder. This disorder relates to the production of protein molecules called cytokines by a certain type of white blood cell. And the identification of this pathway has created the first objective test capable of making the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.”
As a result of this study, the FM/a test was established with a 93% sensitivity, providing a “legitimacy” to fibromyalgia as a disease, rather than a syndrome.
With so many Fibromyalgia sufferers being told it was all in their head or that they are exaggerating their symptoms, this was quite a revelation.
Daniel J. Wallace, MD, FACP, FACR, associate director of the Rheumatology Fellowship Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and managing physician of the EpicGenetics Clinical Testing Program stated; “The significance of this breakthrough will change the way the medical community views fibromyalgia, as well as how doctors diagnose, and ultimately manage patients with the condition. This discovery provides hope and validation for millions of fibromyalgia sufferers.”
Then in 2013, another research study was done, both at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. This study was to specifically test this FM/a test on other conditions that are similar to FM, specifically rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The results of this study showed that the FM profile was significantly different that those with RA or SLE. “lowered cytokine/chemokine profiles from stimulated PBMC [peripheral blood mononuclear cells] may represent a biomarker that is relatively sensitive and specific for FM compared to SLE and RA.”
The FM/a test gives people a way to finally be diagnosed with fibromyalgia avoiding years of unnecessary tests. Effective treatments to control the symptoms of fibromyalgia can be initiated earlier avoiding medications that are not indicated for the disease. The test comes as a blessing is to people who have not been able to give their pain and fatigue a name.
To read more about this test and how to get it, as well as a discount offer on the cost of the test, you can go to the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Awareness website.