Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia diagnosis is based on ruling out other conditions, especially chronic fatigue syndrome and myofascial pain syndrome; evaluating the patient's history of symptoms; and evidence of tender points located at specific areas of the body.

Tender points are 18 specific points that are located from the neck to the knees. To diagnose fibromyalgia, at least 11 of these points must be painful when pressure is applied. Some physicians believe patients can have fibromyalgia without having 11 tender points.

In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology defined two diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia:

  • At least 11 of 18 designated tender points are painful when pressure is applied to them.
  • The patient has experienced widespread pain for at least 3 months in all four quadrants of the body (i.e., right and left sides of the body and above and below the waist) or axial skeletal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar spine, anterior chest).

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 15 Sep 2015