Talking to your doctor about fibromyalgia

Suffering from fatigue and widespread pain and wondering if you may have fibromyalgia? Talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you find out the cause of your symptoms, offer treatment options, and refer you to specialists and support groups for additional support and care.

At your visit, your doctor will ask some questions about your symptoms and your health, and examine you physically. See "Diagnosing fibromyalgia" for details on how fibromyalgia is diagnosed. Depending on what your doctor finds, your doctor may give you a diagnosis or you may need more medical tests.

Being prepared for your doctor's visit will help you get the most out of the visit and help your doctor diagnose and manage your symptoms more efficiently. Before you visit your doctor, be prepared to discuss your symptoms, your other medical conditions and medications, and your family history. If you have many medical conditions or medications, make a written list to give your doctor.

You can use this checklist to list the symptoms you have experienced:

chronic, widespread body pain
sleep problems (poor sleep quality, difficulty sleeping)
morning stiffness
mental fogginess, difficulty concentrating, or problems with short-term memory and multitasking
headaches or jaw pain
dizziness or lightheadedness
nausea, diarrhea, constipation, gas, or bloating
painful menstrual periods (women only)
sensitivity to temperature changes
sensitivity to bright lights or sounds
weight gain or loss
feeling anxious or depressed
other: ________________________

Before your visit, you should also make a list of questions you'd like to ask your doctor. Here are some to get you started:

  1. Do I have fibromyalgia?
  2. Do you recommend any other medical tests?
  3. Is there anything I need to know about how fibromyalgia could affect my other health conditions?
  4. What are my treatment options?
  5. Which options do you recommend and why?
  6. Should I make any lifestyle changes?
  7. Do I need to start any medications?
  8. What else can I do to cope? (e.g., local support groups)
  9. Do I need to see a specialist?
  10. Other: ________________________
  11. Other: ________________________

If your doctor recommends medication, here are a few questions to ask:

  1. What is the medication called?
  2. How does it work?
  3. How do I use it?
  4. What side effects may happen, and what should I do about them?
  5. Is the medication safe to take with my other medications and medical conditions?
  6. When will it start working?
  7. How long will I need to take it?
  8. What should I do if I miss a dose?
  9. Other: ________________________
  10. Other: ________________________

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