Daily Archives: June 14, 2012
I have recently had a spate of messages listing symptoms and asking if the writer has fibromyalgia – I am not a doctor. I do not pretend to be a doctor. My posts and comments have all resulted from personal experience and internet research, so I am unable and unwilling to diagnose people (and, as a lawyer, I am very aware of that!)
Diagnosing FM is often difficult. Its symptoms can mimic those of other conditions. So if ‘real’ doctors can’t always do it, why would I pretend I could (especially without medical indemnity insurance!)
It is common for FM to be misdiagnosed.
The main symptom is widespread pain. You can have pain on the right and left side of the body, above and below the waist, or in only one or two places in the body, especially the neck and shoulders. A diagnosis of FM can be difficult because FM isn’t the only condition with widespread pain.
Besides pain, another major symptom is chronic fatigue. But patients with other conditions also have chronic fatigue.
The many other symptoms that may occur in FM can also be experienced by patients with other conditions.
Any combination of these symptoms can suggest the presence of other serious illnesses, such as:
- Sleep apnea
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Another reason FM is hard to diagnose is the tendency for groups of symptoms to occur together in patients. But the groups will not be the same for everyone. So not everyone will have all the symptoms.
And because the symptoms can suggest multiple diseases, doctors need to exclude them as they look for an explanation.
Likewise, and you’ll have noticed this in comments on Facebook pages, a patient could have co-existing conditions. For example, a person could have Lyme disease, arthritis, or obstructive sleep apnea – all conditions that can mimic FM – and also have FM as a secondary condition.
Sometimes health professionals, especially those unfamiliar with FM (and we’ve all met some of them), limit themselves to treating one disease and do not check whether FM could be contributing to the symptoms.
Also, men are 10 times less likely than women to develop tender points. So some men may not be getting properly diagnosed.
P.S. I’m liking the title Dr FibroModem – maybe I’ll go back and complete a doctorate (but definitely not in medicine)!