Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

If you’re caring for an elderly loved one who has been struggling with fatigue, constant pain and tenderness, and concentration problems, she may have fibromyalgia but sometimes getting that diagnosis is tough. 

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Senior Care Monroe, NC: Fibromyalgia and Seniors

Senior Care Monroe, NC: Fibromyalgia and Seniors

Fibromyalgia symptoms are found in many other conditions and diseases so when a person is suffering from them, usually a physician has to rule out all other possibilities before determining if a patient has fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia also presents problems because symptoms come and go, and they might be related to another condition, making it hard to know if it’s fibromyalgia causing the issue or something else. 

Since fibromyalgia is often caused by how the brain and spinal cord process pain signals, your parent’s physician will rely on your parent’s symptoms to make a decision. It will be important for your parent to tell her doctor about all of her symptoms, even if she thinks its from something else. Having you and your senior care provider help her make a list before she visits the doctor will help her remember. 

The doctor will ask about widespread pain, but above and below the waist and on both sides of the body. And he may test your parent for tender “touch points,” often used to diagnose fibromyalgia. Having you with on this visit to gently encourage your parent to be fully truthful about pain will help the doctor determine what is happening in your parent’s body.

To rule out other causes, your parent’s doctor will most likely request a series of tests to rule out things such as rheumatic diseases, neurological disorders, and mental health problems. Certain conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and depression can often also cause the same symptoms as fibromyalgia. Your senior care provider may be able to give some insight if she thinks depression or anxiety have been the culprits of your parent’s continuous pain and fatigue. Someone who helps take care of your parent, like a senior care provider, may have helpful insight for you and the doctor. 

Your parent’s doctor will also do a thorough physical exam that involves testing your parent’s tender points. Fibromyalgia often causes pain in specific spots of the body. There are 18 points that the doctor will apply firm pressure to in order to determine if your parent reacts to the pain levels more than an average person would. If 11 of those points are tender, it’s often the first step toward a fibromyalgia diagnosis. It is not the only way to determine fibromyalgia, but it is a good way to assess your parent’s pain levels. 

Fibromyalgia can begin at any point in a person’s life, but it’s often linked to a recent traumatic event, either physically or mentally. For some reason, that traumatic event causes the body to start misreading the cues from the nerve endings. If your parent has post-traumatic stress disorder, she might be more likely to develop fibromyalgia, so her doctor may ask if she’s experienced any traumatic events recently.

If you or an aging loved one are considering Senior Care in Monroe, NC, please call the professional staff at Caring at Heart today at (704) 379-7510. Serving Charlotte, Statesville, Ballantyne, Mooresville, Huntersville, Matthews, Concord, Gastonia, Pineville and Indian Trail

Shanele Healy
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