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Debunking myths: Fibromyalgia & CFS are 'wastebasket diagnoses'

Saturday 20 March 2010

Question marksAbout.com's Adrienne Dellwo has written an article challenging perceptions that some people have about ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia:

Debunking Myths: Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are 'Wastebasket Diagnoses'

Thursday March 4, 2010

This one can come from anywhere, but it seems most prevalent in the medical community -- "That's just what they tell you when they don't know what's wrong." The belief is that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome aren't "real" diagnoses: doctors just give them to people they can't diagnose properly (or who don't have a real problem), so the diagnosis is meaningless.

This myth is partially true, unfortunately, but only when you're dealing with doctors who give these diagnoses but don't understand them. They may be perplexed about what's going on and decide, "I can't find anything causing this pain, so it must be fibromyalgia," or "There's no reason for her to be this tired, so it must be chronic fatigue syndrome." These doctors generally aren't familiar with the full diagnostic criteria, and they don't always go through all of the steps necessary to rule out other possibilities. These guys are obviously doing a big disservice to their patients, and they're hurting the rest of us as well.

What the medical community as a whole needs to realize is that these conditions do have very specific diagnostic criteria, and when they're followed, it's not a "wastebasket diagnosis." We've had studies showing that the criteria do successfully separate people with our unique symptom clusters from people with other medical problems, and believe me, when we get together and compare notes, it's pretty clear that we've got far more in common than just pain and/or fatigue without an obvious source! We discover commonalities in sleep problems, irregular temperature fluctuations, hair loss, sensory overload, allergies and sensitivities, word loss, short-term memory problems, intestinal issues, vision, etc. You're not going to find those widespread similarities in people with an invalid diagnosis.

I don't know how I've been so fortunate, but I have yet to have a doctor question my fibromyalgia diagnosis. I know the day will come, and when it does, I have a response prepared: "Are you too lazy to keep up on the research, or too stupid to understand it?" Seriously, folks -- if we can all dig up scientific studies and understand them through severe brain fog, it takes a special breed of incompetence not to see that there's something very legitimate going on here.

We've got well-documented dysfunction in our central and autonomic nervous systems, immune response, hormones, blood flow, cellular reproduction and more. These doctors need to update their thinking and stay on top of things, because by sticking with dark-ages thinking they're violating their oath to do no harm.

Have you run up against this myth? Do people close to you believe it? Leave your comments below!

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The article originally appeared here.

 


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