AROUND two million Brits live with fibromyalgia, an agonising, chronic condition which is notoriously difficult to diagnose.
People with fibromyalgia are often misdiagnosed or have to go years without a diagnosis – but now, one sufferer has shared a home "test" online to help others determine whether they have the condition.
Posting on The Fibro Warriors website, one woman shared a helpful guide, explaining that while a final diagnosis should always be made by a doctor, the "test" was a good way to get a better idea as to whether you have the symptoms.
She also added that home diagnosis tests are a good way to determine whether or not to approach your doctor with fibromyalgia in mind.
The questionnaire, designed by TV doctor, Dr Oz, asks patients to fill in four different sections, with information regarding pain and other symptoms.
These include checking boxes relating to where the pain originates from, as well as ticking any "overlapping symptoms" including fatigue and cognitive issues.
At the end of each section, patients are required to make a note of how many boxes they ticked.
If the score is over seven, the guide recommends booking an appointment with your doctor and taking the sheet along, too.
There's also a second tool, known as the FIQR (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire Revised).
The questionnaire is made up of three sections and asks patients to rate how difficult everyday tasks are, as well as the severity of symptoms, including pain and stiffness.
The questionnaire can be viewed and completed here.
As well as chronic pain, fibromyalgia can cause increased sensitivity to pain, fatigue and muscle stiffness, according to the NHS.
Sufferers can also have difficulty sleeping, as well as memory loss, concentration problems, headaches and irritable bowel syndrome.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but researchers believe it may be related to chemicals in the brain and could be affected by genes inherited from your parents.
Often, the condition is triggered by a stressful physical or emotional event, like the death of a loved one, the breakdown of a relationship or an operation or physical injury.
Although anyone can develop fibromyalgia, it affects around seven times more women than it does men.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, although the symptoms can be controlled to make it easier to live with.
Exercise has been found to help ease many painful symptoms, while others find relaxation techniques can help keep the condition under control.
Treatment could include a combination of lifestyle changes, painkilling medication and counselling or another form of therapy, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Tips for coping with the condition include:
- Minimise stress – assess your work stress, learn to say no to things that may stress you out
- Work to improve communication skills
- Keep a daily diary – see if you can understand what may trigger an attack
- Soak in a warm bath
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce caffeine
- Use tools for relaxation of your mind and body
- Ensure you have a good sleep routine
In March, a new study found that evidence of the chronic illness can be detected in blood samples.
Scientists from the Ohio State University hope that this will pave the way for a more simple, faster way to diagnose the condition.
“We found clear reproducible metabolic patterns in the blood of dozens of patients with fibromyalgia," Dr Hawkshaw said.
“This brings us closer to a blood test than we have ever been.”
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