Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a recognized condition characterized by widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum of three months. In addition, FMS patients are sensitive to pressure in at least 11 of 18 identified tender points. The tender points are mainly located around the neck, shoulder, chest, hip, knee and elbow regions. For treatment purposes it is not necessary to have all of these criteria. There are a number of associated symptoms that are not used for diagnosis but are recognized to be part of the syndrome. These are: fatigue, irritable bowel (e.g. diarrhea, constipation, etc.), sleep disorders, chronic headaches, jaw pain, cognitive or memory impairment, post-exertion malaise and muscle pain, morning stiffness, menstrual cramping, numbness and tingling sensations, dizziness or lightheadedness, skin and chemical sensitivities.
Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose because there are no diagnostic tests that prove its presence. Certain laboratory investigations may be conducted to rule out disorders that have features that are similar to Fibromyalgia. These include:
ESR (Sedimentation Rate): Used to reveal an unrecognized inflammatory condition.
Hematology Profile: Used to rule out anemia or conditions of the white blood cells.
TSH: Used to rule out thyroid disease that is causing fatigue and muscle pain.
ANA: To rule out Lupus Erythematosus that has many features similar to Fibromyalgia.
RA: The Rheumatoid Factor test to rule out Rheumatoid arthritis.
CK (Creatine Kinase): A muscle enzyme used to rule out a muscle inflammatory condition such as polymyositis.
Other tests that depend upon associated symptoms.
If all of these are normal and the criteria for Fibromyalgia are present then this disease entity may be strongly considered.
The Fibromyagia Network http://www.fmnetnews.com/