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Diagnosing Fibromyalgia Is Difficult.... But It Shouldn't Be.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, joint stiffness, and fatigue. While the root cause of Fibromyalgia and its' symptom etiology are unknown, Fibromyalgia is often sited as a "neurological condition" within the medical world, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Classification of Diseases and Disorders.

Sadly, many people with Fibromyalgia wait years to be properly diagnosed. However this should not be the case as a clinical diagnostic assessment for Fibromyalgia, and classification of its' severity, was developed and put forth in 2010 by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), called the Widespread Pain Index (WPI) and the Symptom Severity Index (SSI). Further, in 2016 the ACR updated the WPPI/SSI Diagnostic Tool for Fibromyalgia and streamlined it for easier use for both medical providers and patients. However, most community-based physicians and VA Healthcare providers do not routinely use the established ACR 2010 criteria or the update ACR 2016 WPI/SS Diagnostic Form for Fibromyalgia. The other unfortunate issue is medical providers continue to use the outdated "tender point tests" which has found to be an inconsistent tool to diagnosing and assessing the severity of one's Fibromyalgia.

In addition, in 2013 a diagnostic blood test for Fibromyalgia, called FM/a by Epigenetics, passed clinical trials, was FDA approved and became available to the public. Moreover, many health insurance plans cover part or all of the FM/a blood test, including Medicaid and Medicare HMO healthcare coverage plans. Sadly, few medical providers in the private sector know about the FM/s blood test, and even few still at the VA Healthcare System. Interestingly, while very few private and VA healthcare providers know about the FM/a Blood Teat, if you are a Veteran applying for Service Connection Compensation for Fibromyalgia, if a Veteran somehow had a medical provider order the FM/a Blood Test, the VA Compensation and Pension Department will accept the results of the FM/a blood test that identify (or Diagnose) a Veteran has Fibromyalgia. The VA Healthcare System and the Compensation and Pension Department are 2 different entities under the Department of Defense (DOD). While both systems are in place to provide a designated service to Veterans, both systems are ultimately unrelated in the supports they provide Veterans, thus communication is lacking. However, it would be great if the VA Compensation and Pension Department sent a memo to the VA Healthcare System medical departments giving the heads up about the FM/a Blood Test. A simple memo would probably resolve a lot of problems for Veterans trying to obtain a proper diagnosis for Fibromyalgia.

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