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Beating the Odds: How to Strengthen Your Fibromyalgia Case

Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by muscle, joint, or bone pain, fatigue, and a wide range of other symptoms. The disorder may actually be composed of several different processes, ranging from physical inflammation to psychologically based somatoform problems, with probable overlaps in between. It has often been called the “diagnoses of exclusion,” meaning that once doctors have failed to figure out the exact cause of your pain, you get slapped with a fibromyalgia diagnosis. With this disease, there is no MRI, x-ray, or blood test which will prove its existence in your body. However, to the victims of this pain disorder, life is a day by day struggle against the very real symptoms.

Because of the lack of objective testing to indicate its existence, fibromyalgia cases are the most difficult to prove before an Administrative Law Judge. Social Security regulations require that the Judge base his decision on facts within the medical record. However, for the fibro patient, there will usually be little if any testing that supports the high levels of pain they experience.

For a long time, many medical professionals adamantly denied that such a condition even existed. Often times, fibro patients were called malingers and their symptoms were looked at in disbelief. However, as more research has been done, more and more doctors are giving fibro another look. Even Social Security regulations have changed over the years. Now, under Social Security Regulation 99-2b, the Administration recognizes pain cases and requires adjudicators to take each claimant’s subjective experience of pain into account. Failure by a judge to consider this pain can sometimes be grounds for an appeal.

The American College of Rheumatology defines fibro through trigger points located in various areas of the body. If someone has a certain number of these trigger points, a diagnosis can be made. This is one test that is gaining popularity among Social Security medical experts.

In order to strengthen your case, make sure you are treating with a Rheumatologist, or fibromyalgia specialist. Request that your doctor regularly conducts a trigger point test and makes a confirmed diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Also, make sure all your pain complaints are consistently recorded in your medical record. Additionally, if your doctor has recommended an assistive device for ambulation, get a written prescription. Any statements by your doctor explaining how your condition limits your ability to perform a job will also hold substantial weight before a Judge. Lastly, get an experienced Social Security attorney early in the case so that they can help guide you in your pursuit for benefits. Though fibromyalgia cases are among the most difficult to prove, there is hope as doctors and other medical professionals are continuing to research the disorder, and Social Security has also taken notice of the changes in the medical community.

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