Fibromyalgia take about three to five years on average to be diagnosed and most patients endure a long and difficult journey in the process. There are many factors to contribute to this delay including the fact that the only indicator that something is wrong is pain and symptoms that go undetected in blood work and other exams. A fibromyalgia diagnosis is usually based on a patient’s description of pain and other symptoms.
Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis that involves a process of elimination. In other words, a good doctor eliminates all other possible causes of your pain, sleep issues and other symptoms before a fibromyalgia diagnosis cannot be made. Depression is common misdiagnosis because the symptoms such as poor sleep, depressed moods and prolonged body pain.
Another roadblock that doctors and patients come across when trying to look for possible diagnosis is that fibromyalgia has many symptoms that can apply to other conditions. You can have symptoms such as dry eyes, irritable bowel issues, migraine and extreme fatigue. Further, pain is not localized, it is everywhere. Fibromyalgia symptoms can overlap with those of other conditions. For example, if you have rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, it can be difficult for your doctor to determine what condition is causing your symptoms.
The last factor as to why fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed is that most physicians have little experience with it. There are many people, including doctors, who believe that the condition is in a patient’s head and discount the real pain that a patient is having. Many doctors consider fibromyalgia “psychosomatic.” This basically means that the mind causes the body to respond a certain way to non-existent stimuli. They believe this because there are no real tests to prove fibromyalgia and most tests come back normal for fibromyalgia patients. For those trying to finding a diagnosis, this can be a very frustrating process.
As a fibromyalgia sufferer, you know that a fibro diagnosis isn’t an easy one to get. Each one of us has a long journey towards diagnosis.