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How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

Fibromyalgia is often difficult to diagnose as the symptoms vary considerably and could have other causes. The symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions, for example an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) or autoimmmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

At present, there aren't any specific blood tests, x-rays or scans that can confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and many people with fibromyalgia will have normal results in all these tests. However, your doctor may suggest you have blood tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms and so support a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Until recently, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia was made based on specific tender points in certain areas of your body. However, guidelines released in 2010 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).

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