Fibromyalgia Diagnosis & Management: How Do I Get Through to My Doctor?

Fibromyalgia Diagnosis & Management: How Do I Get Through to My Doctor?

Through the Fog

Having a productive conversation with your doctor is not always be easy. Unless your primary care doctor is willing to listen, understand, and work with you, I would recommend finding a reputable rheumatologist. I started out with my primary care doctor because I couldn’t figure out what was causing all the symptoms I was experiencing. For a year she ran all kinds of tests and tried different remedies, until she finally sent me to a rheumatologist.

At our first appointment he took copious notes, asked really good questions, and performed the trigger point test on me. Having pain in 11 of the 18 trigger points is an indicator of fibromyalgia. At the end of that appointment I had my diagnosis, and felt understood and really heard for the first time in years.

You have to be your own advocate for your health. Ask good questions, bring a list of symptoms and their severity, take good notes (ask to record the conversation on your smartphone, or bring someone along to take notes for you), and be open to trying what the doctor recommends. In fact, I would encourage you to keep an ongoing health journal that you can bring to your appointments. Never minimize your symptoms or the impact they have on your daily life. Be completely honest — your doctor is not a mind reader. If you don’t understand something that is said, ask for an explanation.

Some questions to be prepared for:

  • Where is the pain? Be as specific as you can.
  • When do you experience the pain? Again, be specific about time of day, activity you’re doing, if it accompanies weather changes, etc.
  • What kind of pain are you having? Is it burning, stabbing, achy, constant, or intermittent?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how bad is your pain? Do NOT exaggerate! For most of us it falls in the 4-6 range most of the time.
  • How does your pain affect your life? This last is where a list or journal comes in handy. Are you unable to sit or stand for long periods of time, does the pain and fatigue keep you in bed, are you unable to hold a job because of your pain, fatigue, and brain fog? Be honest, but don’t embellish.

If you’ve done everything possible on your part to explain your pain clearly and accurately, and your doctor still doesn’t seem to understand or is not willing to treat your pain adequately, the best thing you can do is find another doctor. The fact is, you can’t force someone to understand or be compassionate. Unfortunately, there may be times of trial and error before you find the right doctor to treat your pain. But never give up, because they are out there.

Like I mentioned earlier, YOU need to advocate for yourself and your healthcare treatment.

Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia. 

2 comments

  1. Melissa says:

    Hi there Robin,

    I generally enjoy your posts but when you started talking about trigger points I lost faith. Fibromyalgia doesn’t have ‘trigger’ points, it only has ‘tender’ points. Trigger points are in Myofascial Pain Syndrome. There is enough confusion already out there about this, and it doesn’t help when a blog dedicated to Fibromyalgia gets it wrong.

    • Robin Dix says:

      While tender points are used to diagnose fibromyalgia and can change in severity upon pressure, and trigger points cause myofavial pain syndrome, they often coexist with fibromyalgia. Such is the case with my youngest daughter

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