How to Test for Fibromyalgia: Quiz

Do you ever wonder how to test for fibromyalgia? Or wish that there was a “do I have fibromyalgia quiz” that you could take? We've put together a fibromyalgia symptoms quiz, based on the key diagnostic criteria that are used in many countries around the world.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic and widespread pain condition, which often comes with a host of other symptoms, and that affects at least 2% of the global population.

There is no definitive fibromyalgia test. Instead, doctors use a combination of methods to rule out other conditions and accurately identify fibromyalgia symptoms. However, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to determine how likely it is that you might have fibro.

Take the quiz for fibromyalgia

Take our fibromyalgia self-test and symptoms quiz to see where you land, and please speak to your doctor for a diagnosis and medical advice.

Knowledge is power

Receive free science-backed tips and advice to learn about your fibromyalgia and what can help.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

How can a doctor test if you have fibromyalgia?

The process of identifying fibromyalgia is heavily dependent on the symptoms reported by the patient. The old method of diagnosing based on tender points has been replaced with a more holistic approach. Physicians now focus on:

  • verifying the presence of extensive pain in at least four out of five designated body regions
  • confirming the persistence of these symptoms for a minimum duration of three months
  • reviewing the patient's medical history thoroughly, with particular attention to their chronic pain experiences and any cognitive difficulties they may have, such as memory problems.

In 2010, the American College of Rheumatology introduced the Widespread Pain Index and the Symptom Severity Scale to quantify the patient's pain and its impact on their daily life. For a fibromyalgia diagnosis, the patient must have experienced widespread pain for at least three months, and other potential causes for the pain must be ruled out.

The current guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology consider a wider array of fibromyalgia symptoms, capturing the full spectrum of patient experiences. These symptoms can include widespread pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, mood swings, cognitive difficulties known as "fibro fog," and a plethora of other fibromyalgia-related symptoms that individuals may encounter.

Physical exam

A comprehensive physical exam is a critical step in diagnosing fibromyalgia. This examination includes a detailed assessment of specific tender points distributed across the body. The diagnostic criteria require the presence of pain in a minimum of four out of these five regions1.

  • upper left side, encompassing the shoulder, arm, or jaw
  • upper right side, covering the shoulder, arm, or jaw
  • lower left quadrant, involving the hip, buttock, or leg
  • lower right quadrant, focusing on the hip, buttock, or leg
  • central region, which consists of the neck, back, chest, or abdominal areas.

Can a blood test detect fibromyalgia?

There isn’t a specific blood test that can conclusively diagnose fibromyalgia, but such tests are integral to the diagnosis by excluding other conditions with similar symptoms. This is done by assessing complete blood counts and checking the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. For example, certain blood tests have the capability to pinpoint indicators of rheumatoid arthritis or separate lupus from fibromyalgia via antinuclear antibody testing, which assists in distinguishing between these conditions.

There also has been recent research on using the FM/a blood test which measures cytokine levels within peripheral blood mononuclear cells. It turns out that many people with fibromyalgia show unusual levels of cytokines, which suggests a unique pattern in their immune system's response2.

Differentiating fibromyalgia from similar conditions

You might find the process of diagnosing fibromyalgia a bit complex because it shares symptoms with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and chronic fatigue syndrome3. To pinpoint fibromyalgia, we use a variety of tests to eliminate these other possible causes.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis is identified through a combination of medical imaging and blood tests, as it involves an autoimmune response that mistakenly attacks your joints and organs, leading to inflammation and pain.

Blood tests are used to find specific antibodies, such as rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP), which are commonly present in those with RA. Additionally, tests such as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) are conducted to assess the level of inflammation in your body4.

Lupus

To determine if you might be experiencing lupus, your doctor will search for telltale signs such as skin rashes and joint pain.

The antinuclear antibody (ANA) test is pivotal in this quest, as it detects specific antibodies, like anti-double-stranded DNA and anti-Smith, that suggest lupus. This test, accompanied by assessments of your erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, will help measure the inflammation in your body5.

Treatment options for fibromyalgia

As you navigate the complexities of fibromyalgia, it becomes clear that a holistic treatment strategy is paramount. This approach should thoughtfully combine medication with self-care to alleviate your symptoms and enhance your overall wellness.

Medication as enabler

Medication, as you'll discover at MoreGoodDays®, is simply one element within a comprehensive pain management strategy. It's essential to integrate it with educational, lifestyle, and psychological support systems.

Your medicinal options include:

  • over-the-counter analgesics like acetaminophen and naproxen to ease the pain
  • antidepressants such as sertraline and fluoxetine, which can help regulate mood and pain perception
  • Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), targeting specific pain pathways
  • anticonvulsants, including topiramate and carbamazepine, which are also known for their effectiveness in nerve pain treatment.

Physical therapy

A physical therapist is essential in the fibromyalgia management journey, tailoring exercise regimes to bolster strength, enhance flexibility, and boost stamina. Aquatic exercises, in particular, have shown to be quite effective. Regularly engaging in low-impact activities such as walking or swimming can mitigate typical fibromyalgia symptoms including pain, rigidity, and muscle tension.

With a physical therapist's guidance, you can gradually increase your activity levels in a controlled manner, avoiding exacerbation of discomfort. This measured progression is key to improving your overall health and managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia more effectively.

Retraining your pain response

Understanding your brain's interpretation of pain involves recognizing that pain encompasses not only physical sensations but also emotional states and environmental factors.

Identifying elements that exacerbate your pain, such as stress, pessimistic thoughts, or particular activities, is a crucial initial step. Recognizing these factors enables you to modify them. This might involve dietary changes, improved sleep habits, increased physical activity, or employing techniques that help reframe these triggers for your brain. Over time, with consistent practice, you can recondition your brain to process pain differently, potentially reducing its intensity and diminishing its influence over your life.

The strategies to consider are as follows.

Stress management

Mastering stress management can profoundly transform your experience of pain. When you learn to manage stress adeptly, your body is less inclined to interpret every sensation as pain. Embrace powerful stress-reduction techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness meditation to reshape your thoughts, anchor yourself in the now, and achieve tranquility. Engaging with peers, a counselor, or a support group allows you to voice your struggles and find solace in collective wisdom.

Movement & exercise

Starting a routine with movement and exercise might seem daunting, but it's incredibly valuable for pain management. Physical activities have the power to elevate your spirits, energize your body, and enhance your sleep quality. The trick is to find exercises that you find enjoyable and that accommodate your current physical condition. Options could include soothing activities like yoga, light-hearted dancing, or even gardening.

Incorporating stretches and gentle, low-impact exercises such as walking can help ease muscle tension. As your flexibility improves, you may experience a decrease in pain, which can contribute positively to your overall health.

Begin with basic exercises and slowly increase your strength and endurance. Approach this journey with kindness and understanding toward yourself. By advancing at a rate that is mindful of your body's responses, you can elevate your level of physical activity without inflicting injury upon yourself.

Sleep quality

Sleep, your faithful ally in the battle against fibromyalgia, is a pillar of your self-care. More than 90% of those with fibromyalgia struggle to reach the restorative depths of slumber, where healing unfolds.

To enhance your rest and fortify your well-being, consider these practices:

  • Cultivate a rhythm: strive for eight hours of sleep and keep your sleep-wake cycle consistent.
  • Embrace the power of a short nap to refresh without disturbing your nightly rest.
  • Engage in daytime activity to ease the transition to sleep as evening falls.
  • Diminish electronic distractions before bedtime to signal your brain that it's time to rest.
  • Create a sleep sanctuary: dark, quiet, and free from interruptions.
  • Be mindful of caffeine and its lingering effects on your rest.
  • Steer clear of heavy meals or alcohol before bed to preserve sleep quality.
  • Find relaxation in other forms, enhancing your sleep routine and managing symptoms more effectively.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, our mission is to empower you in navigating life with fibromyalgia. Recognizing the profound impact this condition can have on your daily existence, we've crafted a suite of resources and strategies that are not only accessible but also simple to integrate into your routine. These resources are meticulously designed to both enlighten you about fibromyalgia and provide practical methods for managing the associated pain and fatigue.

Our commitment is to be your ally as you pursue a more vibrant and fulfilling life, despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

For immediate access to a selection of our resources and to explore the support available, download our mobile app at no cost from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

You can learn more about key symptoms and causes of fibromyalgia (and understand why we ask certain questions), plus what to do if you would like to get a diagnosis, through our blogs:

You can also check out our complete guide to fibromyalgia.