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Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose. Many of the symptoms are similar to other disorders. A history and physical exam will be done. Your doctor will discuss your pain symptoms and check for tender (trigger) points. Tender points are areas of pain throughout your body. Symptoms of chronic and widespread pain must be present for more than 3 months. The doctor will also discuss how much fatigue, waking unrefreshed, and thinking problems you are having.

Testing for Tender (Trigger) Points —According to criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology, there are 18 specific tender points around the body that are potentially painful when palpated in people with fibromyalgia. These points are located around the neck, shoulder, chest, hip, knee, and elbow regions. Most healthy people have only a few tender points.

A diagnosis of fibromyalgia is usually made if 11 of these 18 points result in pain when palpated.

Blood Tests —Blood tests cannot identify fibromyalgia. However, your doctor may order these tests to rule out other illnesses that have similar symptoms, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Revision Information

  • Diagnosis. Fibromyalgia Network website. Available at: Accessed August 8, 2013.

  • Diagnosis. National Fibromyalgia Association website. Available at: Accessed August 8, 2013.

  • Fibromyalgia. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: Updated February 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.

  • Fibromyalgia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 15, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.

  • Fibromyalgia. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Updated August 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Parkridge Health System does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.