Well, there are a lot of similar symptoms between Fibromyalgia and other illnesses like CFS, and ME. These in turn can also be coupled with other illnesses or diseases like Arthritis, but there are some distinguishing factors.
The chemical imbalance is a known factor of Fibro, which is why fibromites suffer an intense amount of pain.
Fibromites also have a distinguishing sleep pattern which deprives them of the deep sleep. This pattern has been studied by sleep experts and have noted a difference between that and other conditions with similar symptoms.
Pressure points. There are 18 pressure points on the body (as seen in the graphic) which show where these points are. On a normal person, when pressure is applied to one of these points, they would feel 'pressure' but not necessarily pain. In a fibromite, pressure applied to these tender points would be incredibly painful.
Diagnosis is usually therefore based on a history of symptoms and length of time, along with tender points, and that the pain has to be present above and below the waist and have been present for over 3 months to be considered for a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
So how did I get diagnosed?
I was telling a friend I was in agony after a tiny bump in the car just before Christmas. The car was clipped on the passenger corner at the back. Damage to the car was tiny, but I was in agony the next day and for almost a week after I had trouble moving my neck. That and the fact that over the years I've spouted on about pains all over, sleep issues etc, and she said 'I don't want to scare you Ange, but have you considered this' and she posted me a link to the Fibro site.
Well, I could tick about all of the things on it. However, I obviously needed a doctors help on this one to be sure. I booked in, took my list of issues and went to see him. Fortunately for me, he knew his stuff and had heard a lot about fibromyalgia and also acknowledged that it was a real illness, not in our heads as some would say.
We went through everything and he said it was Fibro and that my friend was very good for spotting it. He went through some options, and send me off with a prescription for Ami's. This is a common drug used for Fibromyalgia, and works for some, not for others, and unfortunately did not for me. I was a zombie on them, but others have had fantastic results with them, so it is a case of try things and see what works. One size does not fit all with Fibro. It really is a suck it and see kind of illness.