Why Your Doctor Won't Diagnose You With Fibromyalgia

"I've been sick for months and my doctor has been testing me for all kinds of things. I've read a lot on the Internet and fibromyalgia is the only thing that seems to fit all of my symptoms.

I brought it up to my doctor and he said that fibromyalgia wasn't something to consider yet. I'm really frustrated and confused. He's come up with nothing, in test after test after test. Why won't my doctor even think about diagnosing me with fibromyalgia?"

Some diagnoses are straight-forward, but unfortunately, fibromyalgia isn't one of them. That may play into your doctor's reluctance, but it could also be due to different factors, depending on your doctor.

Woman and her doctor talking about results
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First, some doctors still don't accept fibromyalgia as a valid diagnosis, so they may be unwilling to discuss or consider it. You may want to ask your doctor directly whether this is an issue. Then, if the testing process leaves you without answers, it's up to you whether to find another doctor who would be willing to consider fibromyalgia. Many people have had to change doctors in order to get a diagnosis.

However, the conditions are gaining wider acceptance in the medical community, so that reason should be encountered less and less.

Among the doctors who do accept the fibromyalgia diagnosis, they still may not be ready to consider the condition in your case for a couple of reasons.

Chief among them, under a widely-used set of diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, you have to have symptoms on a more-or-less continuous basis for a minimum of three months. It may simply be that your doctor is waiting for enough time to pass. If that's the case, you can revisit the idea in a couple of months.

Also, fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that before diagnosing it, doctors have to test you for illnesses that have similar symptoms. That can take a lot of time and test, especially since some similar illnesses can be difficult to diagnose in their own right. In some cases, it may take time and multiple rounds of testing to eliminate them with certainty.

Fortunately, once your doctor is ready to consider fibromyalgia, the diagnostic process is a simple one. It requires either a tender-point exam or a questionnaire—no blood work or imaging at all.

A proper diagnosis is the first step toward finding effective ways to treat and manage your condition. As hard as it is, you need to be patient and let your doctor take the appropriate steps and make sure the end result of the diagnostic process is accurate.

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