Researchers found that testing for fibromyalgia using a widespread pain index and a measurement of the number and severity of symptoms leads to a more accurate fibromyalgia diagnosis than the commonly used tender point examination.
Researchers sought to develop updated criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia that does not warrant a tender point examination, and their findings were published in the May 2010 issue of Arthritis Care & Research.
To create the new diagnostic criteria, the researchers developed a widespread pain index (WPI). The WPI is a 19-item checklist that tracks where a patient feels pain. Additionally, the researchers created a symptom severity scale to measure the amount and intensity of the patient’s symptoms.
The researchers hoped that by understanding the painful areas, in addition to the number and severity of the symptoms, they would create a more comprehensive diagnostic method that can detect fibromyalgia more accurately than the tender point exam that’s traditionally used.
To test the new criteria, the researchers conducted a multi-center study of 829 people who had fibromyalgia and a control group of people who had other pain disorders. The researchers found that the combination of the widespread pain index, number of symptoms, and severity of symptoms provided the most accurate fibromyalgia diagnosis.
The researchers reported that the new criteria will correctly diagnose more than 88% of people with fibromyalgia—and that’s without a tender point examination.
You can read the full article about fibromyalgia diagnosis and this new approach by visiting the American College of Rheumatology website. They have a pdf of the fibro diagnostic criteria
Getting a solid fibromyalgia diagnosis is still a fairly new concept, as much of the medical community had once dismissed the disorder as merely a figment of the imagination. But the new diagnostic criteria, which have the support of the American College of Rheumatology, help legitimatize fibromyalgia.