Why it can be hard to diagnose fibromyalgia

If you don't suffer from fibromyalgia, you might not understand the condition. Since it's largely invisible and there's no single, known source, some people may question if it even exists. But if you suffer from fibromyalgia, you know the pain and fatigue are real.

You might also find yourself dealing with a bad faith denial of your disability benefits. Insurance companies are always looking for ways to excuse themselves from making payments. They often deny fibromyalgia claims because they think they can get away with challenging the diagnosis.

How do doctors diagnose fibromyalgia?

Although it's hard to diagnose fibromyalgia, it's not impossible. Doctors have long acknowledged the condition is real. However, there's no single cause. This means there's no single test. Instead, doctors need to track the symptoms, which may include:

  • Lasting, widespread pain that can appear in different parts of your body
  • Grogginess and fatigue that can make it difficult to think clearly
  • Sensitivity to light, noise and temperature
  • Problems with the urinary tract and bowels

The tricky part often comes when doctors check against the other possible causes. These include:

  • Rheumatic diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, that start with aches and pains
  • Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues
  • Neurological conditions that can cause the numbness and tingling people with fibromyalgia often feel

Doctors often run a series of tests to rule out these other possible causes. And it gets even harder to diagnose the condition if you have another condition at the same time.

Your ERISA protections

Thanks to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), your employer needs to give you a clear summary of your healthcare benefits. And you have the right to fight against disability denials made in bad faith. Too often, victims of fibromyalgia face these unfair denials.

Fortunately, researchers at The University of Texas may have made a recent breakthrough. They found links between fibromyalgia and insulin resistance. If it's confirmed, their research may someday make it easier to diagnose the condition. But for now, getting a diagnosis is still largely a process of elimination.

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