"The Three Graces" illustration that appeared in the original fibromyalgia criteria study (1990) with tender points superimposed.
I've been asked (more than once) if there is a blood test that will determine if one has fibromyalgia (also known as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), nasty and degrading little term that's used, "syndrome," no?) The short (and sad) news is that no, there is no blood tests that will identify fibromyalgia. However...
...there are certain blood tests that should be run for three reasons: first, to exclude any conditions that may mimic fibromyalgia; second, to exclude if comorbidities exist - that is, to see if other conditions in addition to the fibromyalgia exist; and third, to factor in what would help establish how and if fibromyalgia symptoms can be lessened.
Before we get into the above reasons, I would like to emphasize that in most cases fibromyalgia is relatively easily established by a rheumatolgist or pain specialist knowledgeable in fibromyalgia. Not all rheumatologists, pain specialists, or even neurologists, however, are equal in identifying fibro and indeed some of the specialists out there who claim to be well-acquainted with fibro are indeed not specialists in the field. Unfortunately, I know this first-hand as a "professional patient." (Ha! But sadly also true.)
But getting to my list:
- Fibromyalgia can occur on its own, yes. For the most part, however, it's a sign that there is something else going on and that cause needs to be checked out.
- As they say in the medical field, your usual doc starts looking for horses before the "zebras bit" but when it comes to fibro, a medical history is absolutely necessary as it may point out what would normally be viewed as zebras in most any other medical field. In other words, it's incredible that when it comes to fibro the zebras are actually horses. For example, adult growth hormone deficiency is often seen in fibromyalgia as Dr. Robert Bennett first described in 1992. Car accidents can also be a cause of fibro, although often showing up years later. As is seen in my case, HGH insufficiency and numerous other factors have contributed to my fibromyalgia, including my CFIDS/CFS/ME. However, lupus, osteoarthritis and even cancer - indeed almost any autoimmune disease and infectious disease - can cause fibro, as well as sleep disturbances (the latter described by Moldovsky and Smythe, 1974).
- There are other blood tests that can (and should) be run to see if it's a nutritional problem. A deficiency in magnesium (Red Blood Cell test should be run or the results will be inaccurate) and Vitamin B deficiencies are just two nutrients that can lead to problems with fibromyalgia. I was shocked, for example, to discover by two different doctors that I was indeed vitamin B deficient (trusting soul that I am NOT) and that it can take up to two years to overcome a vitamin B deficiency.
I've found that after identifying and treating my many deficiencies, my fibromyalgia got much better, but it took a long time (well over two years for the HGH to also kick in) but I need to be monitored all the time because as I've said so often before, things just keep going wrong.
The American College of Rheumatology has published criteria to help the doctor make the diagnosis of fibro. However, keep in mind that fibromyalgia is not a diagnosis of exclusion. It used to be thought of as a "wastebasket" diagnosis, but no more!
It also used to be thought of as a manifestation of depression. That notion has been disproved by many studies showing that depressed patients perform very differently on neuropsychological testing compared to fibromyalgia patients. The two profiles are simply very different.
Your doctor can use the published fibromyalgia criteria to establish whether or not you have fibromyalgia but blood testing can be very useful in the assessment and treatment of fibromyalgia patients. However, looking into the various criteria (i.e., the evolution of the criteria over the years) and knowing some of the people involved, I must say that I do have a problem with some of the doctors who are in ivory towers and see few patients, who don't take good histories, as well as those who are afraid to touch their patients.
But then I'm a bit picky, aren't I?
As always, I hope all are doing the best they can be, only better. Ciao and paka!
|Raphael's original "The Three Graces" with the tender points superimposed.|