Fibro Facts, our newest series on Inspired Living with Fibromyalgia, is a series of illustrated facts about Fibromyalgia. The goal is to help increase awareness and understanding for the millions of people living with Fibromyalgia throughout the world and to help people recently diagnosed learn a bit more about Fibromyalgia!
Fibro Fact #5: Widespread Pain Index (WPI), New Criteria for Diagnosing Fibromyalgia, Needs to be between 3 and 7 depending on SS score
In 2010 the American College of Rheumatology developed the new criteria for diagnosing Fibromyalgia with the hope that it will help ensure appropriate diagnosis in a timelier manner than previously. The new criteria are the Widespread Pain Index (WPI) and the Symptom Severity Score (SS). These new criteria are in addition to the previous criteria of Tender Points and Quadrant Pain.
If you would like to learn more about Quadrant Pain and Tender Points, please click the links attached to the words Quadrant Pain and Tender Points. This will take you to previous posts that explain them and have cool graphics to boot!
Today, I’m going to focus on the new criteria called the Widespread Pain Index, but it is tied to the Symptom Severity Score, which I will be posting about tomorrow. Basically, the WPI Index lists 19 parts of your body and asks you which areas you have had pain in the last week. The overall pain of Fibromyalgia, must still last for over 3 months, but by doing weekly assessments, your doctor will be able to diagnose you more quickly and determine how well current treatments are working.
The WPI scale is intended to help by adding some flexibility to the tender point exam and attempt to correct the major flaw of the tender point test. The biggest weakness of the Tender Point Test is that a person’s pain threshold can fluctuate, meaning that the exact same person can have different levels of pain in different areas at different times.
The range for the WPI index score is 0 to 19. You get one point for each area that you have had pain over the last week for the following areas:
Shoulder girdle, left
Shoulder girdle, right
Upper arm, left
Upper arm, right
Lower arm, left
Lower arm, right
Hip (buttock) left
Hip (buttock) right
Upper leg left
Upper leg right
Lower leg left
Lower leg right
So for instance, if you have pain in your neck, one shoulder, both upper arms and both lower legs, your score would be 6, which depending on your SS score (which will be explained tomorrow) may lead to a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. When determining which areas are painful, you are also asked to consider your pain or symptoms from other known illnesses like arthritis, Lupus, etc. and NOT count that pain.
A lot of research was done to develop the new criteria of the WPI Index and the SS score and the new criteria when combined with the previous criteria are estimated to be 88% accurate for diagnosis, which should help decrease the amount of time Fibromyalgia takes to get diagnosed and help monitor how well treatments are working.