According to Pain Pathways magazine (Spring 2011 issue), fibromyalgia patients often have a tough battle to face when they are first diagnosed with their disorder. On average, it takes patients about two or three years to even get the correct diagnosis of fibromyalgia. During that time, they usually see between three and five physicians, leading to a whirlwind of differing opinions and treatment options for their pain. Pain Pathways interviewed a doctor who says that, although physicians are being trained to recognize and diagnose fibromyalgia, they often do not diagnose it the first time that they see a patient.
One of the main challenges to correctly diagnosing fibromyalgia is the fact that there is not a definitive, standard diagnostic test for the disease. Drawing blood and using technology such as MRIs or CAT scans alone do not accurately diagnose fibromyalgia, since the symptoms of fibromyalgia vary in both type and severity across patients. Additionally, there are still some physicians who deny the existence of fibromyalgia, and attempt to pinpoint the pain as a manifestation of another bodily problem. To help with this problem, the American Pain Foundation (APF) keeps a list of physicians who they recommend for fibromyalgia treatment. The APF also has an online fibromyalgia toolkit, in which you may take a self-assessment to see if you possibly have fibromyalgia. Currently, women account for 90% of all fibromyalgia cases, but this may be due in part to male’s reluctance to seek medical help if they suffer from pain, leading to underreporting about the actual prevalence of the disease.
Tomorrow this post will be continued, discussing what happens after diagnosis and what the options for treatment are.
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer located in Altoona, PA and serves the central and western Pennsylvania area. For more information on him and his firm, please click here.