Causes Of Fibromyalgia And Diagnosis
Causes Of Fibromyalgia
The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown. There may be a number of factors involved.
Few examples of causes of fibromyalgia would be an infection (viral or bacterial), an automobile accident or the development of another disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or hypothyroidism.
These triggering events probably are not the causes of fibromyalgia, but rather, they may stimulate an underlying physiological abnormality that is already present. Most researchers agree that fibromyalgia is a disorder of central processing with neuroendocrine/neurotransmitter dysregulation.
The fibromyalgia patient experiences pain amplification due to irregular sensory processing in the central nervous system.
An increasing number of scientific studies now show multiple physiological abnormalities in the fibromyalgia patient, including: low levels of blood flow to the thalamus region of the brain, HPA axis hypofunction, low levels of serotonin and tryptophan and abnormalities in cytokine function.
Currently there are no laboratory tests available for diagnosing Fibromyalgia. Doctors must rely on patient histories, self-reported symptoms, a physical examination and an accurate manual tender point examination.
It is estimated that it takes an average of five years for a Fibromyalgia patient to get an accurate diagnosis. Laboratory tests often prove negative and many fibromyalgia symptoms overlap with those of other conditions, thus leading to widespread investigative costs and irritation for both the doctor and patient.
Another essential point that must be considered is that the presence of other diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, does not rule out a Fibromyalgia diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is not a diagnosis of exclusion and must be diagnosed by its own characteristic features.
To receive a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, the patient must meet the following diagnostic criteria:
- Widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months
- Tenderness or pain in at least 11 of the 18 specified tender points when pressure is applied