Fibromyalgia Glossary: Part 6

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 Six 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.

Fibromyalgia Terms

QALY. An acronym for Quality Adjusted Life Year. It's a type of measurement that combines your health status and the length of a certain unit in your life into a single measurement. It's useful in treating fibromyalgia because it shows both the quality and quantity of your life and shows how much of a burden the syndrome has caused you.

With QALY, each full year of health is assigned a value of 1.0. The value for death is 0.0. If there are years that aren't lived to full heath, they are assigned a number between 0 to 1 depending on the severity of the health problem or disability.

QALY is often used to determine the cost of treatment and if it's worth the money for that particular treatment. It's also used to allocate healthcare resources.

Qualitative Research. Refers to in-depth, varied information gathering that shows how something is experienced without providing precise facts and figures. This type of research can be more difficult to interpret because there is no way it can be measured. Information for fibro-related qualitative research could be gathered by recorded and transcribed detailed interviews with fibromyalgia sufferers.

Quantitative Research. Refers to research that produces measurements, facts and figures that are easily verified and analyzed. This type of data can be collected through questionnaires or other verifiable methods of measurable data. Researchers analyze the data collected often using statistical tests.

Rand-36. If you're in the diagnosis stage of fibromyalgia, don't know the condition and are trying to find out why you're experiencing pain, extreme and other related symptoms, then your doctor may ask you to fill out a Rand-36. It's a non-disease specific questionnaire meant to help measure the quality of life. The test relies on patient self-reporting and typically has 36 questions that cover the following:

· Bodily pain

· Role limitations due to personal or emotional problems

· General mental health

· Social functioning

· Role limitations due to physical health problems

· General mental health

· General health perceptions

· Energy and fatigue

· Physical functioning

Raynaud's Phenomenon. Is a condition where cold or even strong emotions can blood vessels to spasm and block blood flow to the ears, nose, toes and fingers. The skin can become painful, turn pale, numb or begin to tingle.

Most people who experience the condition are over 30 according to Medline Plus, an online service provided by the National Institutes of Health. Fibromyalgia can cause this condition as can certain types of arthritis and autoimmune conditions.

If the condition secondary, like it would be with fibromyalgia, then the patient usually experiences pain or tingling in different fingers and the symptoms can be intense. Those with primary Raynaud's Phenomenon don't have very much pain and have problems in the same fingers on both sides.

Tender points. Parts of soft tissues or muscles that are highly sensitive to any type of pressure stimulation. The American College of Rheumatology Fibromyalgia Diagnostic Criteria has a test for tender points that involves analyzing the sensitivity of nine pairs of specified tender points using four kilograms (about nine pounds) of pressure. Click here to find out more about tender points.

The average person will experience pain with this pressure in only a small number of tender points. Those who are diagnosed with fibro must experience pain in 11 of the 18 tender points.

Trigger points. They're similar to tender points in that they cause pain when pressure is applied. They're different in that the pain is caused by tight muscle fibers that prevent the muscle from relaxing or contracting properly. These tight fibers can send pain to unrelated body sites.


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