Fibromyalgia is characterized by diffuse and overlapping symptoms. In 1990 the American College of Rheumatology developed guidelines for classifying the syndrome.
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There are two criteria.
- Widespread pain in both sides of the body, above and below the waist for a minimum of three months.
- Pain when pressure is applied in at least 11 of 18 specific tender points. These tender points are all over the body often occurring at muscle tendon junctions, where micro-injuries have occurred. Visit the National Fibromyalgia Association to see a map of where they are.
But the criteria are merely a starting point in determining a diagnosis. A physician must also use clinical judgment to rule out other conditions and weigh symptoms (such as fatigue and insomnia) against other variables (such as pain in several tender points, but not enough to meet the criteria).