Fibromyalgia is a disorder that affects an estimated 2 to 4 percent of the population, according to the American College of Rheumatology. The following fibromyalgia symptom checklist is just one of several things used to help correctly diagnose a patient with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Symptom Checklist
While no two patients presenting with symptoms of fibromyalgia are the same, there are symptoms that commonly occur in the majority of patients. The following are some of the recorded symptoms associated with fibromyalgia:
- Widespread muscle pain; cramping; spasms
- Tender points – used as one of several diagnostic tools
- Fatigue (moderate to severe; affects an estimated 90 percent of patients)
- Decreased energy
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Sleep disorders; insomnia
- Memory and concentration impairment; difficulty with simple mental tasks
- Sensitivities to bright light (photophobia), various medications, temperature (hot or cold), odors/fragrances, noise and foods.
- Depression (occurs in approximately 25 percent of patients)
- Abdominal pain; diarrhea; constipation
- Incontinence; increase in urinary frequency or urgency; irritable bladder
- Jaw and facial tenderness; TMJ
- Headaches; migraines
- Dizziness; light-headedness
- Painful menstruation; PMS
- Reduced ability to tolerate exercise
- Stiffness after being in one position or upon waking
It is not enough for a patient to present some or all of the symptoms on the fibromyalgia symptom checklist. Because there is no one test to diagnose fibromyalgia conclusively and because the symptoms can be caused by other health concerns, physicians must use several diagnostic tools to correctly diagnose the patient.
One such tool is the evaluation of the patient’s tender points. To be diagnosed as having fibromyalgia, a patient must experience pain upon the application of firm pressure in at least 11 of the following 18 tender points (two tender points are at each site), as listed by the Mayo Clinic:
- Back of the head
- Between the shoulder blades
- Top of the shoulders
- Front sides of the neck
- Upper chest
- Outer elbows
- Upper hips
- Sides of hips
- Inner knees
A chart that illustrates the tender points on a female body outline may be viewed below.
Another part of the diagnostic process involves ruling out other health concerns that have the same symptoms as fibromyalgia.
Related and Co-Existing Health Concerns
Because so many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia can also indicate other health concerns, a patient presenting the symptoms may have something other than fibromyalgia or may have another health concern that overlaps it. The diagnosing physician will need to assess the patient’s medical history and symptoms thoroughly, and may order additional testing before making a diagnosis.
Some of the related and co-existing health concerns include:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Restless Leg Syndrome
Fibromyalgia Tender Points Chart