Tests that may be needed

While there is no lab test to confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, your doctor may want to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. Blood tests may include:

  • Complete blood count
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Vitamin D levels

Your doctor may also perform a careful physical exam of your muscles and joints, as well as a neurological exam to look for other causes of your symptoms. If there's a chance that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend a sleep study.

More clues for fibromyalgia diagnosis

People who have fibromyalgia also often wake up tired, even after they've slept continuously for more than eight hours. Brief periods of physical or mental exertion may leave them exhausted. They may also have problems with short-term memory and the ability to concentrate. If you have these problems, your doctor may ask you to rank how severely they affect your day-to-day activities.

Fibromyalgia often coexists with other health problems, so your doctor may also ask if you experience:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Frequent or painful urination

Possible fibromyalgia triggers

In some cases, fibromyalgia symptoms begin shortly after a person has experienced a mentally or physically traumatic event, such as a car wreck. People who have post-traumatic stress disorder appear to be more likely to develop fibromyalgia, so your doctor may ask if you've experienced any traumatic events recently.

Because a genetic factor appears to be involved in fibromyalgia, your doctor may also want to know if any other members of your immediate family have experienced similar symptoms.

All this information taken together will give your doctor a much better idea of what may be causing your symptoms. And that determination is crucial to developing an effective treatment plan.

Aug. 23, 2011 See more In-depth