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How to Avoid a Fibromyalgia Misdiagnosis

Pain Management Apr 15, 2019 No Comments

Those suffering from fibromyalgia suffer from constant pain and a fibromyalgia misdiagnosis can be detrimental. Here’s what to know about a diagnoses of fibromyalgia. 

Pain, fatigue, sleep problems, inability to concentrate, numbness, headaches, and digestive problems. These are just a few of the first signs of fibromyalgia that doctors see when trying to assist patients.

According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, 10 million people are affected by this disorder in the United States. Most of these are women and the symptoms can vary from person to person.

Unfortunately, many doctors unknowingly give a patient a fibromyalgia misdiagnosis and are prescribing a one-size fits all treatment plan.

This may be because fibromyalgia is still a mystery. No one has definitively found why it exists and how to cure it.


What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that consists of a group of symptoms that appear together. For example, pain in the joints will be accompanied by headaches, tingling in the legs and trouble sleeping.

Many researchers believe this disorder stems from a brain problem. Meaning, the brain gets confused and misinterprets how to respond to certain factors.

When a person sees a bright light, a normal brain may make a person squint a bit until the eyes can adjust.

In a person with fibromyalgia, the brain sends signals to the body that say the bright light is painful, making the person unable to adjust to the light and even develop other painful symptoms.

A problem arises when doctors mistake the symptoms of their patients and provide a fibromyalgia misdiagnosis, preventing them from proper treatment.


The Misdiagnosis of Fibromyalgia

Today, it seems like fibromyalgia is the go-to diagnosis when no other diagnosis can be made. This can become a problem when establishing a treatment plan.

Some reports claim 2/3 of people given a diagnosis of fibromyalgia are misdiagnosed.

This is because this diagnosis should only be given after everything else is ruled out. This is not the case, however.

Doctors should do a much better job at ruling out conditions before offering a fibromyalgia diagnosis. They need to consider all similar diseases or disorders first.

Keep reading to find out the more common conditions that mimic the symptoms of fibromyalgia.


Misdiagnosing Fibromyalgia and Leg Pain - Comprehensive Pain Management Center



When your thyroid does not produce enough hormones, it is underactive, or hypothyroid.

Because so much of your body’s functions depends on proper functioning of the thyroid, when it is not working correctly, you will notice negative symptoms. Many of these symptoms are like those of fibromyalgia.

An underactive thyroid can hinder digestive functioning, as well as cause pain in your arms and legs. It can make you overly sensitive to temperature changes and bright lights. It has also been associated with depression and anxiety.


2. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system starts attacking the linings of your joints. This causes inflammation and severe pain in your joints. This disorder can affect every body part from your eyes, skin and blood, to your hands and feet.

You can expect to feel stiffness, extreme fatigue, and even fever.

And all these symptoms can lead to:

  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive issues
  • Anxiety and depression


3. Lupus

Lupus is another autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. This can cause great pain all over the body. It can even hurt when you breathe. The muscles, bones, joints and skin are all effected.

Lupus can cause:

  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling
  • Severe pain

It can even produce sores and ulcers in your mouth and on other parts of the body.

Due to these symptoms, many sufferers feel anxious or depressed, and note they have a hard time sleeping and eating.


4. Lyme’s Disease

Lyme’s disease is caused by a bacterium. There are four types of bacteria that can lead to Lyme’s. Many doctors do not test for all four types when they should to eliminate it completely.

Lyme’s disease can cause severe headaches and neck stiffness. It causes rashes and inflammation in various parts of the body. Joint pain, muscle weakness and flu-like symptoms are presented with this disorder.

Extreme fatigue is often a common symptom among sufferers. As you can see, this is just one more condition that mimics fibromyalgia.

It can be quite concerning to think doctors are misdiagnosing diseases when there are many ways to avoid a fibromyalgia misdiagnosis.


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How to Avoid a Fibromyalgia Misdiagnosis

There are things you can do to ensure you do not receive a fibromyalgia misdiagnosis. One of the first steps is finding the right doctor.

It’s important you do extensive research when seeking a doctor. The doctor you choose needs to have, at a minimum, extensive experience working in the field of pain medicine. They should be certified and licensed in the pain management.

Your doctor should have a variety of methods to use when diagnosing your symptoms. He or she should spend much time eliminating other conditions before giving you a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

When treating your symptoms, your doctor should offer the best, most up-to-date options. They should be using current and cutting-edge techniques. A doctor that only wants to prescribe pain medicine is not the doctor for you.

Instead, your doctor should compliment your treatments with alternative or holistic therapies. They understand the mind, body and spirit are connected and should be treated together.



An organization that is seen as a positive model in treating patients with pain is the Comprehensive Pain Management Center. Finding out the cause of your pain is the first goal. Once the cause is determined, the right treatment can begin.

Make sure your doctor looks at every possible cause, and there are hundreds, of pain. They should never rush to a diagnosis, especially when there are so many tests and procedures at their disposal to help with diagnosing conditions.

The best doctors still need help from you. Make sure you report all symptoms, give detailed descriptions of when and where you have pain.

The more information you can offer, the easier it will be for the doctor to properly diagnose your pain.


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