Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose, as many of the symptoms are similar to other disorders. Your doctor will do a complete physical exam, discuss your symptoms, and then check for “tender (trigger) points", areas of pain throughout your body, to confirm the diagnosis. Symptoms of chronic and widespread pain must be present for over three months before a doctor can make a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Testing for Tender (“Trigger”) Points—According to criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology, there are 18 specific tender (or pressure) points around the body that are potentially painful when palpated in people with fibromyalgia. Most healthy people have only three tender points. These points are located around the neck, shoulder, chest, hip, knee, and elbow regions.

A diagnosis of fibromyalgia is usually made if 11 of these 18 points result in pain when palpated.

Blood Tests—Although blood tests cannot identify fibromyalgia, your doctor may order these tests to rule out other illnesses that exhibit similar symptoms, such as lupus , Lyme disease , rheumatoid arthritis , and other musculoskeletal disorders.


American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/ .

Fibromyalgia Network website. Available at: http://www.fmnetnews.com/ .

Last reviewed August 2008 by Robert Leach, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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