NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s a chronic pain condition that affects millions of Americans, but fibromyalgia is poorly understood and often misdiagnosed.
CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports there’s a new test that could finally clear up some of that confusion.
After experiencing unexplained, full-body pain, Barb Hartong was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
“It was almost a relief because I finally knew what was wrong with me,” Hartong said.
Experts estimate about 75 percent of fibromyalgia cases are undiagnosed, while others live with pain for years, often receiving treatment that’s ineffective or even harmful.
“Many of the patients with chronic opiate use turn out to have underlying fibromyalgia. So in fact, if that was recognized then we could realize that we can stem the tide of treating them inappropriately with opiates,” Dr. Kevin Hackshaw from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Now, researchers have identified a potential test to diagnose fibromyalgia with just a few drops of blood.
“We use infrared in many companies to determine protein, fat, moisture, starch levels, fiber in seconds,” Dr. Luis Rodriguez-Saona explained.
This test can analyze levels of chemicals in the blood the same way it analyzes molecules in food. The fingerprinting technique it uses can distinguish fibromyalgia from other chronic pain conditions with near 100-percent accuracy.
“A test like this provides confirmation and validation of the symptoms they’ve been suffering for years,” Dr. Hacksaw added.
Researchers are now working to take the test out of the lab and into the exam room, so doctors could diagnose fibromyalgia on the spot.
There are no great choices for treatment yet, but knowing the biology of fibromyalgia at least helps rule out ineffective ones. It may also help researchers develop new treatments for the painful condition.