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Q.

What type of doctor is the best to diagnose fibromyalgia?

Can your primary doctor or would a specialist be a better choice?
 

Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

299 Answers
6,870 Helpful Votes
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A.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, painful condition of unknown cause. Any type of doctor can diagnose it when the symptoms and signs are "classic" and other diagnoses have been ruled out. However, when there is uncertainty, it makes sense to see a rheumatologist (arthritis specialist), pain specialist or other doctor with expertise in chronic pain.

The most important thing is that the diagnosis is correct. Overlooking fibromyalgia or treating for fibromyalgia while overlooking a readily reversible cause of pain may contribute to avoidable suffering.

Doctors establish the diagnosis when there are typical signs and symptoms with no other explanation. Common symptoms and signs include:

  • Widespread pain in the joints, muscles and spine

  • Soreness to touch in certain locations (called "tender points")

  • Poor quality sleep

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Difficulty concentrating

Rheumatologists have extensive experience seeing people with fibromyalgia. They also have experience with many of the other diseases that cause similar symptoms. For example, it's common that rheumatologists diagnose fibromyalgia in people suspected of having rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Other conditions that may mimic fibromyalgia include thyroid disease and vitamin D deficiency.

Copyright 7/15/2008 Harvard University. All rights reserved. HHP/HMS content licensing handled by Belvoir Media Group.

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