Fibromyalgia Glossary: Part 3

There's a lot of medical terminology used in relation to the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia. Educating yourself is one of the keys to getting a proper diagnosis and correct treatment, so it's important to know what the doctors are talking about.

This is Part Three of a six-part glossary that gives a plain-English overview of some of the most common terms you might come across during your fibro research or when talking to doctors.

Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS). A short questionnaire meant to help evaluate the impact of fatigue on you by requiring you to rate you level of fatigue. Fatigue is a common symptom of fibromyalgia and doctors may use you level of fatigue as one method of coming up with a diagnosis. You can use it to test yourself to see if your fatigue is severe enough to consider medical help.

The questionnaire contains nine statements where you agree or disagree with the statements a scale of one to seven. One indicates strong disagreement and seven indicates strong agreement. If you're required to take the test, you will need to circle a number for every question. Examples of actual questions from the questionnaire are;

· Fatigue interferes with carrying out certain duties and responsibilities.

· Fatigue causes frequent problems for me.

· My motivation is lower when I am fatigued.

Once the questionnaire is completed, the numbers are added together. A score of less than 36 suggests you probably aren't suffering from significant, prolonged fatigue. A score of 36 or higher suggests you should seek medical evaluation.

General Heath Questionnaire (GHQ). Another type of questionnaire that may be used to access and diagnose fibromyalgia or symptoms of fibromyalgia. The Oxford Journal of Occupational Medicine says the questionnaire "rarely fails to provide reliable and effective measures of well-being." It's typically used to measure short-term psychological distress (a common symptom of fibromyalgia) or screen for a mental disorder. In other words, the GHQ is used to assess the well-being of a person by targeting two areas: the appearance of stress and the inability to carry out normal functions.

Genetic predisposition. Some medical researchers suspect that there's a gene in fibromyalgia that makes the condition inherited. While there isn't a general agreement in the medical community regarding this, your doctor may request a family history to find out if anyone in your family experienced fibromyalgia or fibromyalgia-like symptoms, especially during the diagnosis stage. If there is a history, you may have a genetic susceptibility or predisposition to the syndrome.

HAQ. Also known as the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire, this list of questions is also another way your doctor might diagnose fibro or assess the severity of your symptoms. The test, developed in 1978, measures functional ability on a scale of 0 (best) to 3 (worst). It contains 20 questions that evaluate four dimensions:

· Discomfort

· costs

· drug side effect

· disability

A Modified HAQ is also available and contains just eight questions. It's a questionnaire you would do yourself and report the results to your doctor.

IL-1 Interleukin. This is a type of protein in the immune system. It's also called a pro-inflammatory cytokines. In simple terms, too much production of IL-1 Interleukin causes inflammation and pain. Some doctors believe that this is a problem with fibromyalgia sufferers. Excess production of IL-1 Interleukin is connected to the pain and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Informed Consent. This refers to the decision you make on whether or not to allow a certain type of treatment to be performed. The decision is only informed consent if you have been given all the information related to the type of treatment including the disadvantages, as well as the consequences of choosing or not choosing to allow the specified treatment. In clinical trials, you may be required to sign legal documents stating that you give your informed consent to allow the treatments.


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