Celeste Cooper RN Author - Educator and Pain Advocate

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Check out Celeste's Articles for ProHealth or follow Celeste and others at ProHealth Fibromyalgia  News 

Those of us who live with fibromyalgia (FM) have experienced a battery of tests, often only to be told they are negative. Because of this, we may dismiss new symptoms as more of the same. But, could our complacency prevent us from sharing important information? Shouldn't we take an active role in our care. Read more about how to see symptoms as indicators and how to we can relate our experiences to our physician in a manner we all understand? Find our how in an article I wrote for ProHealth.

Essential Factors for Relating Fibromyalgia Symptoms 

Talking to Our Doctor

Though not all experts agree, there are factors in diagnosing fibromyalgia that are quite consistent. 


Symptoms must be considered chronic, generally lasting for more than three months.

Recurring Primary Characteristics

Most agree there are four recurring characteristics:

  • Body-wide pain and/or tenderness (The American College of Rheumatology, ACR, suggests assessment for a total of 19 painful areas on the body and their severity.)  
  • Dysfunctional, non-restorative sleep
  • Cognitive disturbance (fibro fog)
  • Fatigue

Primary means predominate and fixed, but no one should dismiss other patient complaints simply because the patient has fibromyalgia. 

Comorbid Disorders

Fibromyalgia comorbid disorders are those disorders that co-occur more frequently with fibromyalgia than with other diseases or syndromes. The following is a compilation from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Rheumatology.  (Accessed, April 22, 2017)

Comorbid disorders or signs: 

  • Headache, severe, chronic, including migraine*
  • Morning stiffness*
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet*
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Digestive problems, such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)*
  • Pelvic pain, female (including irregularities with menstruation and vulvodynia), and male (including prostate pain and dysfunction)*
  • Irritable or overactive bladder Bladder difficulties such as interstitial cystitis, irritable bladder, or overactive bladder and other male or female pelvic pain.* (Also see chronic pain.)
  • Restless legs syndrome*
  • Sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ/TMD) and jaw pain* 

​*Denotes conditions that could be related to myofascial pain syndrome and contribute to fibromyalgia symptoms. Treatments for MPS are not at all the same as those for fibromyalgia.

​Other considerations noted in the literature: chest wall pain, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Raynaud's, and thyroid problems

Though there are studies that have varying hypothesis, some proven, some not, there are factors in diagnosing fibromyalgia that are quite consistent. Because of this, fibromyalgia should NOT be a diagnosis of last resort. You can read more in my article for ProHealth, Criteria and Chaos: Diagnosing Fibromyalgia , which will be released for "fibromyalgia awareness" May 2017. 

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia for Now

Fibromyalgia often co-occurs (up to 25-65%) with other rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), (link to other painful disorders) systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). 


(Accessed, April 17, 2016) 


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC),  approximately two percent of the US population is affected by fibromyalgia and the ratio of women to men is 7:1, and is accompanied by other symptoms and painful disorders. ​​

  • Demographics​
  • Primary Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
  • Comorbid Disorders
  • The FM/a Blood Test
  • The Role of Myofascial Pain Syndrome in Fibromyalgia​​
  • Talking to Your Doctor



​Other Helpful Links

While myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a factor to many painful conditions, some believe its presence with fibromyalgia aggravates the centralization of pain in fibromyalgia. 

As a patient, author, advocate, RN, educator, and contributor of health education on chronic pain and fibromyalgia, I have concerns that none of the diagnostic criterion addresses evaluation of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs). Rheumatologists are internal medicine physicians and they do not study physical medicine. They cannot be expected to know it all, but my hope would be they understand enough to make a referral to other physicians who know how to treat MPS.  ​

You can learn more about the differences between fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome in a freelance article I wrote for Health Central titled, Fibromyalgia Centralization and Peripheral Myofascial Pain: Interview with Karl Hurst-Wicker, MD.

The Role of Myofascial Pain Syndrome in Fibromyalgia

The FM/a® Test is a proven blood biomarker that confirms fibromyalgia.  Click the logo to the left for direct access.  For more information and guidance, you can read my blog.  Also, see my blog how the FM/a blood test will be used to study genomes (genetics) that could lead to definitive treatments. Here is a direct link to the press release.

Join me CAMPAIGN 250      HERE

Follow Celeste's Blog for additional information, or subscribe to blog feed  at:  https://fmcfstriggerpoints.blogspot.com/

National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA)   

American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association, Inc. (AFSA)
Help and support Fibromyalgia Disability Facebook Group
The American Chronic Pain Association

US Pain Foundation

The International Pain Foundation

American Pain Society

Pain Connection

The Pain Community​​

Helpful Links

      Chronic Pain              Myofascial Pain             Trigger Point           Other Chronic Pain    Guide for Pain Warriors    Pain vs. Addiction         Bio-Psychosocial  

Celeste Cooper / Author, Health Pro, Advocate

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