First Blood Test for Fibromyalgia Could Provide Answers and Validation

Researchers say lab test appears to diagnose the disease with near 100% accuracy

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Many of the estimated four million or more Americans living with the widespread pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia struggle to get a diagnosis and effective treatment. Because lab tests often appear normal in these patients, doctors must rely on patients’ symptoms, results from physical exams and the exclusion of other diseases to come to a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Now, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finally have biologic evidence of the disease through a new experimental testing method that can quickly and accurately diagnose fibromyalgia, while differentiating it from other chronic pain conditions.  

    “Being able to see the biological differences in the blood of those with fibromyalgia compared to those with other conditions like lupus, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis finally gives patients validation of their symptoms,” said Dr. Kevin Hackshaw lead author of the study and associate professor of rheumatology at Ohio State. “Not only does this help us direct treatment, but also prevents the use of unnecessary medications, like opiates, that don’t alleviate fibromyalgia pain and can lead to addiction.”

    The laboratory test was developed in a unique collaboration between rheumatologists and the Ohio State food science and technology department. Researchers found that the same technology used to quickly analyze different components in food, like protein and fat, can also analyze chemicals in the blood. “Each person’s blood is unique, like a fingerprint, and this test can show us the intricate details of that fingerprint,” said Dr. Luis Rodriguez-Saona, co-author of the study and professor of food science and technology at Ohio State. “Now, we can see that certain patterns in those fingerprints indicate fibromyalgia, while different ones signal other conditions.”

    Future research will validate the test further and hopefully lead to a widely available blood test that can be used in doctors’ offices so that patients can receive a diagnosis in minutes with just a finger prick. Identifying these biological characteristics may also help experts develop novel therapies to treat fibromyalgia.

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Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have developed a blood test to identify fibromyalgia. The diagnostic tool measures metabolic activity in the blood, distinguishing fibromyalgia from other chronic pain conditions with near 100 percent accuracy.

Dr. Kevin Hackshaw examines fibromyalgia patient, Barb Hartong, at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. A new laboratory test may provide biological characteristics to help guide personalized treatment plans to relieve fibromyalgia pain.

Ohio State’s food science lab processes a blood sample from a patient with chronic pain. Researchers have developed the first experimental test to biologically identify fibromyalgia, differentiating it from other conditions like lupus and arthritis.

Barb Hartong (left) does water aerobics to manage pain caused by fibromyalgia, a condition that is often difficult to accurately diagnose and effectively treat.

Barb Hartong manages her fibromyalgia with medication as well as plenty of exercise. Finding the right combination to manage daily pain can be a long road, but a new blood test may soon provide the details to better direct effective treatments.