In America rheumatologists diagnose and treat arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones including fibromyalgia. Pain specialists are usually board certified anesthesiologists, neurologists, physiatrists, psychiatrists, or oncologists with additional training in pain management. Neurologists diagnose and treat disorders of the nervous system, but they also treat pain problems like Fibromyalgia. All of the above according to WebMD are some of the best choice of Doctors to treat Fibromyalgia.
In the UK on the NHS website they say that your GP will play an important role in your treatment and care. They can help you decide what’s best for you, depending on what you prefer and the available treatments. However in some cases, several different healthcare professionals may also be involved in your care, such as a rheumatologist, a neurologist and psychologist but before you reach this stage you have to be diagnosed with it first.
Fibromyalgia is notorious for being difficult to diagnose and even though your first port of call will be your GP, some GP’s may not have as much knowledge on how to diagnose fibromyalgia as others. In 2010, the American College of Rheumatology published another set of guidelines for diagnosing fibromyalgia. These are preliminary guidelines and include a widespread pain index that assesses the number of painful body regions, and a scale that assesses the severity of symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, comprehension problems, and others.
The UK criteria for having fibromyalgia is that you either have severe pain in three to six different areas of your body, or you have milder pain in seven or more different areas. Your symptoms have stayed at a similar level for at least three months and that no other reason for your symptoms has been found. The extent of the pain used to be assessed by applying gentle pressure to certain “tender points”, where any pain is likely to be at its worst. However, this is less common nowadays.
Even with a doctor who is very experienced with fibromyalgia, diagnosis can take time. This can be frustrating—for the patient and the doctor. People with fibromyalgia often face a lack of compassion and understanding from others around them. But perseverance is the key if you feel you are not getting the treatment or diagnosis you need.
On a personal note I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia while actually being seen by a spinal consultant ( so none of the above) who had given me an epidural for my pain and asked me to keep a diary of how and where my pain was for six weeks from the day of the injection. As he sat reading my notes he asked me if I had seen anyone else about my symptoms but as I thought they were back related I had never even mentioned them to my GP. He then immediately said that I was also suffering from fibromyalgia and referred me to a rheumatologist for a proper diagnosis. The rheumatologist agreed with his diagnosis and I was then initially cared for by my GP but then by a Pain consultant.
Some of my symptoms are the same as disc pain so I have to remember that maybe it’s the disc bulge that is causing the pain flare up or my fibromyalgia but generally the medication I take is for both conditions anyway. Keeping a diary is a great way for a GP or consultant to visualize the sort of pain you are in and can be a lifeline if you have been waiting a long time for a diagnosis. You can find out lots more from the Fibromyalgia UK website.