As with many other health problems, early diagnosis of FM will help patients avoid the fear and anxiety of not knowing what is wrong with them. Early diagnosis also allows for better management of symptoms. For example, early and effective treatment for pain will decrease the risk of other pain and non-pain related symptoms (such as depression).
A diagnosis of FM is based on symptoms including body pain on both sides of the body, above and below the waist that has been present for at least 3 months.
The other main symptoms are deep, profound fatigue and sleep disturbances. All patients with symptoms that suggest a diagnosis of FM should undergo a physical examination.
As there is no specific laboratory test to confirm FM, blood tests should be limited to those that can rule out other conditions that may have symptoms similar to FM. These include endocrine (gland) diseases such as hypothyroidism, rheumatic conditions such as early inflammatory arthritis, or neurological disease such as myopathy or multiple sclerosis.
Any further testing should be based on the individual patient’s symptoms. For example, a patient with significant sleep disturbance should be referred to a sleep specialist for evaluation.