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Could a test provide certainty for diagnosing fibromyalgia?

A long-term, chronic illness is bad enough, but one of the most frustrating elements of those suffering from fibromyalgia is the difficulty of convincing others your pain in real. If the condition has made it impossible for you to hold a job, the more significant issue becomes convincing the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you have a valid claim for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) benefits.

While obtaining SSDI benefits are difficult for many medical conditions, because of the complexity of the application and necessity of medical records and work history, for diseases with amorphous symptoms and no seemingly identifiable source of the problem, unlike say emphysema or heart disease, fibromyalgia can be difficult to identify as the cause of your difficulty.

A new study, authored by an Ohio State researcher, may provide a simple test that can be used to identify fibromyalgia. The blood test uses infrared microspectroscopy to observe molecular patterns of the disease.

In a pilot project, the test was able to accurately distinguish between fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Because prior to this test, fibromyalgia was often determined by ruling out other diseases.

In fact, SSA current guidance for diagnosing fibromyalgia requires that "Evidence that other disorders that could cause the symptoms or signs were excluded," as one of three elements used to find a patient has objective medical evidence of fibromyalgia.

This test, if it lives up to its early promise, could bring a level of certainty to fibromyalgia diagnoses that could allow many of those who need SSDI benefits to ability to cut years off the delays many have to endure.

Source: Medical Xpress, "Faster, simpler diagnosis for fibromyalgia may be on the horizon," Emily Caldwell, July 23, 2013

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