Doctors Who Treat Fibromyalgia
People with fibromyalgia see many medical professionals. You may see
as many as four or five providers in a single month depending on your:
- complete diagnosis
- other health issues
- personal treatment preferences
Knowing the professionals you will come in contact with can help set
your mind at ease and decide who can best help you with the management of this
Primary Care Doctor
You should make an appointment with your primary care doctor if you’re
experiencing any of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. They should be able to
rule out other conditions, positively diagnose the syndrome, and
refer you to a rheumatologist with more expertise in diagnosing and treating
Diagnosis of fibromyalgia is not a simple matter. Your doctor will ask
about your medical history and your symptoms. They may ask you to measure your
pain on a scale. They may use what’s called a tender point test, which measures
your sensitivity to pain by applying pressure to 18 specific sites throughout
the body. Be sure to tell your doctor:
- what your symptoms are
- how long you’ve had symptoms
- if the pain is throbbing, piercing, or shooting
- where the symptoms are worst
- what aggravates or soothes your symptoms
- if you are getting enough sleep
- if you’ve experienced any recent physical or
Your doctor may be able diagnose fibromyalgia or may refer you to a
specialist for further exams and treatment.
A rheumatologist is a doctor with special training in treating
diseases of the muscles, joints, and connective tissues. These include:
They will most likely be your main doctor during the treatment of your
disorder. Similar to your primary care doctor, your rheumatologist will need to
know all about your symptoms and the things you believe may be playing a role
in their severity.
The rheumatologist will perform initial and follow-up tests and
monitor how well treatment is working. They will also prescribe and adjust
medications as needed.
Questions for your rheumatologist may include the following.
- What can I do to reduce the pain?
- How can I prevent flare-ups?
- Are there activities I should avoid?
- What other treatment providers might help?
Psychologist and Psychiatrist
Psychologists and psychiatrists both treat mental disorders like
anxiety and depression. A psychiatrist is a medical
doctor (M.D.) and can prescribe medications. A psychologist is not an M.D. and
cannot prescribe medications, but they may hold a Ph.D. and as such, carry the
title of “doctor”.
These doctors may be able to help you manage feelings of despair and
pain. This condition frequently leads to depression and the depression can
Both can provide counseling and other forms of therapy useful for
fibromyalgia. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, helps those with
depression by challenging the negative self-talk that can worsen their moods.
You may use one-on-one sessions or take part in a support group led by one of
Physical and Occupational Therapist
Physical and occupational therapists help people strengthen muscles
and joints to better perform everyday activities. They also help find ways to
go about daily life with less pain. This therapy can help you be more active
and help you create effective exercise programs. They may assist with
stretching and range of motion exercises. Some of these therapists come to your
home for visits while others require you to visit a clinic.
Other treatment professionals may play a role in the treatment of
fibromyalgia. They include massage therapists, pharmacists, and personal