Fibromyalgia is a frustrating and painful condition for Rhode Island residents who have it, and they may suffer for years before an accurate diagnosis is made. A delayed diagnosis without proper treatment may lead to additional complications and unnecessary pain. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases estimates about 5 million people over age 18 in the United States currently suffer from fibromyalgia. This condition causes chronic, widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body, as well as additional symptoms.
Is it common for doctors to give fibromyalgia patients a wrong diagnosis? According to WebMD, it is not easy to correctly diagnose fibromyalgia, because the condition’s symptoms often mimic those of other medical conditions. A doctor may incorrectly diagnose a patient with lupus, Lyme disease, arthritis, hypothyroidism or numerous other conditions, when in fact he or she actually has fibromyalgia. To add to the confusion, many fibromyalgia patients also suffer from other conditions, such as sleep apnea or irritable bowel syndrome.
Some of the misleading fibromyalgia symptoms commonly present in other conditions include the following:
- Chronic headaches
- Sensitivity to light, noise and temperatures
- Concentration and memory difficulties
- Problems with sleeping
- Tingling or numbness of the arms, legs, hands and feet
Additionally, fibromyalgia does not cause outward physical signs such as swelling or joint damage, leading many doctors to still doubt the existence of the condition. With some physicians being unfamiliar with how to spot or treat fibromyalgia, it is easy to see how a medical misdiagnosis may be made. The failure to diagnose a condition that can so dramatically reduce a sufferer’s quality of life may cause a patient to miss out on many effective treatments that can help manage the pain of fibromyalgia.