Suspect Fibromyalgia? How to Prepare for an Initial Visit With A Health Care Provider
Fibromyalgia is often difficult to diagnose. The symptoms of widespread pain, fatigue, cognitive difficulties (fibro fog), and in some cases, depression, headaches, or lower abdominal cramping are often mistaken for other conditions.
Preparing for an initial appointment with a physician is helpful under any circumstances, but it is especially helpful if fibromyalgia is a suspected diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to diagnose, so providing detailed information is essential when meeting with a health care provider. Tips to help prepare for a physician visit include the following:
- Maintain a daily log. It is often difficult to remember exactly when a symptom occurred and what may have triggered a flare-up. Patterns that may have gone unnoticed become more obvious when activities, diet, mood, and pain symptoms are tracked in a mobile app, such as PainScale, or a personal journal.
- Provide information about any current and past medical issues. Keeping a list of any past and current medical issues and bringing the list to the medical appointment can help during the diagnostic process. Writing down a family medical history and bringing it to an initial appointment can also help.
- Provide a detailed list of symptoms. Taking note of painful areas of the body and sharing this information with the health care provider provides valuable information for diagnostic purposes. Disrupted sleep patterns and any cognitive impairment should also be shared with the physician.
- Describe the pain. Be prepared to describe the pain in detail. For example, is it dull, achy, sharp, or burning?
- Provide a list of current medications, supplements and treatments. It’s important to share a list of current medications, supplements, and alternative treatments with the health care provider.
- Prepare a list of questions. It’s a good idea to write down any questions or concerns for the doctor before the appointment. The stress of meeting with a health care provider can make it difficult to remember every question and concern.