Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Helping your doctor diagnose fibromyalgia

Though there will be a change in the diagnostics for FM, the consensus remains, there are common symptoms that have generally lasted for more than three months. Note and evaluate any measures that help or worsen the following and report them to your doctor:

•Widespread pain, check presence of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs).
•Secondary, anxiety and/or depression
•Sleep disturbance, non restorative or difficulty getting to sleep or maintaining sleep, primary or could be an autoimmune disorder, Hashimoto’s
•Morning stiffness, check presence of MTrPs.
•Bladder difficulties, pelvic floor dysfunction, now being successfully treated w/ intravaginal trigger point injections by a uro-gyenocologist
•Bowel habits altered (IBS, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, bloating, gas, leaky gut syndrome or small intestine bacterial overgrowth).
•Chemical sensitivity
•Chest wall pain, check presence of MTrPs
•Cognitive disturbances, primary or from comorbid hypothyroidism
•Cold intolerance, primary or result of comorbid hypothyroidism or Raynaud’s
•Dizziness, check MTrPs in muscles close to vital organs or vessels, or comorbid nuerally mediated hypotension (NMH) or postural orthostatic tachycardia (POTS)
•Dry eyes and mouth, primary or secondary to a metabolic disturbance or autoimmune such as Sjogrens
•Gynecological disturbances or premenstrual syndrome (PMS), See bladder difficulties.
•Headaches, severe and chronic, including migraine, MTrPs have been related to migraine
•Impaired coordination, could be primary but check presence of MTrPs
•Irritability or mood changes, secondary to chronic pain and primary to centralization in FM
•Jaw pain, most likely secondary to TMJ, bruxism (teeth grinding), which exacerbate MTrPs
•Paresthesias, unexplained numbness, most likely related to MTrPs in muscles close to major nerves
•Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
•Raynaud’s syndrome
•Restless leg syndrome (RLS) and/or periodic limb movement (PLM), has central and peripheral component, it is possible that MTrPs are keeping the brain in wind-up
•Ringing in the ears, could have a myofascial component
•Sensitivity to odors
•Sensitivity to noise
•Skin sensitivities and rashes
•Subjective swelling
•Visual problems, could have a myofascial component or be related to a comorbid condition

There is a checklist at the end of the section, “All about Fibromyalgia,” called Summary Exercise: Fibromyalgia. Our publisher has given permission to copy these helpful sheets found at the end of each section or chapter. Share them with your doctor or other healthcare provider.

Tips for communicating with your healthcare provider at

All blogs, posts and answers are based on the work in Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Celeste Cooper, RN, and Jeff Miller, PhD. 2010, Vermont: Healing Arts press

This question is based on my original answer at ShareCare, “How can I help my doctor diagnose fibromyalgia?”

View my other answered questions as fibromyalgia expert


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