Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New criteria proposed for diagnosing fibromyalgia

Date:
June 6, 2010
Source:
Rush University Medical Center
Summary:
The American College of Rheumatology is proposing a new set of diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia that replaces the tender point test with a rating system that includes common symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive problems, as well as pain.

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is proposing a new set of diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia that includes common symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive problems, as well as pain.

The new criteria are published in the May issue of the ACR journal Arthritis Care & Research.

"These new criteria recognize that fibromyalgia is more than just body pain," said Robert S. Katz, one of the authors of the new criteria and a rheumatologist at Rush University Medical Center. "This is a big deal for patients who suffer symptoms but have had no diagnosis. A definite diagnosis can lead to more focused and successful treatment and reducing the stress of the unknown."

Routine lab tests can not detect fibromyalgia, a condition that is characterized by unexplained pain from head to toe and exhaustion. Instead, the diagnosis has been made by a tender point test, a physical exam that focuses on 18 points throughout the body. When light pressure is applied to these points, clustered around the neck, shoulder, chest, hip, knee, and elbow regions, patients with fibromyalgia feel tenderness or pain.

To meet the previous diagnostic criteria, which were established in 1990, patients must have widespread pain in all four quadrants of their body for a minimum duration of three months and experience moderate pain and tenderness at a minimum of 11 of the 18 specified tender points.

"There are numerous shortcomings with the previous criteria, which didn't take into account the importance of common symptoms including significant fatigue, a lack of mental clarity and forgetfulness, sleep problems and an impaired ability to function doing normal activities," said Katz.

According to Katz, fibromyalgia pain may fluctuate, which can affect the number of tender points, and the tender point test did not adequately measure symptom severity or the effectiveness of new treatments.

"The tender point test also has a gender bias because men may report widespread pain, but they generally aren't as tender as women. Fibromyalgia may be under-diagnosed in both men and women because of the reliance on 11 tender points, and also due to failing to account for the other central features of the illness," said Katz.

Additionally, due to the confusion regarding the tender point test, the authors note that most primary care doctors don't bother to check tender points or they aren't checking them correctly. Consequently, fibromyalgia diagnosis in practice has often been a symptom-based diagnosis. The new criteria will standardize a symptom-based diagnosis so that all doctors are using the same process.

The tender point test is being replaced with a widespread pain index and a symptom severity scale. The widespread pain index score is determined by counting the number of areas on the body where the patient has felt pain in the last week. The checklist includes 19 specified areas.

The symptom severity score is determined by rating on a scale of zero to three, three being the most pervasive, the severity of three common symptoms: fatigue, waking unrefreshed and cognitive symptoms. An additional three points can be added to account for the extent of additional symptoms such as numbness, dizziness, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome or depression. The final score is between 0 and 12.

To meet the criteria for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia a patient would have seven or more pain areas and a symptom severity score of five or more; or three to six pain areas and a symptom severity score of nine or more.

Some criteria will remain unchanged. The symptoms must have been present for at least three months, and the patient does not have a disorder that would otherwise explain the pain.

To develop and test the new criteria, researchers performed a multicenter study of 829 previously diagnosed fibromyalgia patients and a control group of rheumatic patients with non-inflammatory disorders using physician physical and interview examinations. The data were processed by the National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases.

The authors note the study has a number of limitations. They recommend a follow-up test in the primary care setting that includes patients with other rheumatic conditions to determine the rate of misclassification that may occur.

The study was funded by Lilly Research Laboratories. Lilly Research Laboratories did not participate in the design of the study, see the results of the study, or review the manuscript or submitted abstracts.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rush University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Frederick Wolfe, Daniel J. Clauw, Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, Don L. Goldenberg, Robert S. Katz, Philip Mease, Anthony S. Russell, I. Jon Russell, John B. Winfield, Muhammad B. Yunus. The American College of Rheumatology Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia and Measurement of Symptom Severity. Arthritis Care & Research, 2010; 62 (5): 600 DOI: 10.1002/acr.20140

Cite This Page:

Rush University Medical Center. "New criteria proposed for diagnosing fibromyalgia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100524143427.htm>.
Rush University Medical Center. (2010, June 6). New criteria proposed for diagnosing fibromyalgia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100524143427.htm
Rush University Medical Center. "New criteria proposed for diagnosing fibromyalgia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100524143427.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A heart monitor the size of a paperclip that can save your life. The “Reveal Linq” allows a doctor to monitor patients with A-Fib on a continuous basis for up to 3 years! Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins