Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that may develop after a severe injury, accident, or illness. Diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia have only been in use in the United States since 1986, and despite years of research, physicians are only beginning to understand what causes or triggers fibromyalgia symptoms.
In 2010, new developments led the American College of Rheumatology to begin developing new diagnostic criteria for the disease. While the prior criteria relied solely on a physical examination, the new criteria also attempt to evaluate patients’ cognitive functioning and sleep patterns in order to give a fuller picture of the impairments fibromyalgia can cause.
The original criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia required an examination of 18 “tender points,” found on both sides of the body and in various places including the knees, thighs, upper and lower back, arms, neck, and head. Many physicians, however, were not clear on how to perform the tender-point tests correctly, which often skewed diagnoses. Also, many fibromyalgia patients have less pain from their tender points on good days, which can lead to inconsistent test results.
The new criteria still use the “tender points” test, but clearer instructions are given on how to test patients for tender-point pain, and more weight is given to a patient’s reports about where and what kinds of pain he or she has over time. The new criteria also consider a patient’s cognitive symptoms, like the inability to remember things or keep track of a conversation. This criterion recognizes the existence of fibromyalgia “brain fog,” a symptom that can be more troublesome for some patients than the pain, stiffness, and muscle fatigue. Finally, the criteria also include a scale for measuring sleep quality, which is also a well-observed symptom suffered by many fibromyalgia patients and one that can make “brain fog,” pain, and fatigue worse.
Fibromyalgia is a pervasive disorder that can seriously affect your quality of life. If you or someone you love has fibromyalgia, please don’t hesitate to contact the experienced St. Louis fibromyalgia lawyers at Page Law. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at (314) 322-8515.