It can be difficult for many people to seek help and get a proper diagnosis for fibromyalgia because its symptoms cause widespread pain around the body.
People diagnosed with fibromyalgia may experience a wide range of symptoms such as fatigue, mental fog and depression. The problem stems from issues in the nervous system with your body processing pain signals.
Many GPs have difficulty diagnosing fibromyalgia because the symptoms can mimic many other health issues that must be investigated and ruled out.
It can take an average of five years for some people to get an accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia. That is why GPs will refer patients to a specialist rheumatologist such as Dr Bhadauria for a proper diagnosis.
How you can help yourself to get a diagnosis
If you suspect you have fibromyalgia, it can help to keep a pain diary. You can document the type and location of your pain and your symptoms. A pain diary can also help your specialist doctor arrive at a diagnosis.
The quicker you can get a diagnosis and rule out any other possible cause for the symptoms you are experiencing, the better. You will be able to access a proper course of treatment that is personalised to meet your needs to help effectively relieve your symptoms.
When starting your pain diary, you should look out for and document any unusual symptoms you have.
Primary signs and symptoms to look for
There are a few main symptoms of fibromyalgia to look out for and more subtle symptoms that you may initially brush off or blame on something else.
The main symptoms include pain and tenderness in muscles and joints throughout your body. The pain you feel can move around and may not be a consistent problem in just one place or area of your body.
To get a diagnosis for fibromyalgia, your pain symptoms must be present for at least three months and be above a specific score for severity of pain felt. It can help to see a specialist rheumatologist such as Dr Bhadauria to have any other conditions ruled out, such as arthritis, which could be the underlying cause for your pain symptoms.
Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Depression or anxiety
- Itching, burning, and other skin problems
- Lack of energy
- Memory problems and trouble concentrating
- Muscle twitches or cramps
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
- Trouble sleeping
As well as these symptoms listed above, many fibromyalgia patients also experience IBS and other digestive issues such as:
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Stomach ache
- Tension headaches
Even if some of your symptoms are fleeting and mild in nature, it can help to document them in your pain diary, which will help with your diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
While you can face a long wait for a referral to a pain specialist through your GP, you can speed up your diagnosis and access treatments quicker by booking a private consultation with Dr Bhadauria at one of his London-based clinics.