Fibromyalgia and the ICD 10

If your health care professional isn’t listening, find one who will. Knowledge is power. Be your own advocate!

Fibro Cloud

For years, people who suffer from fibromyalgia have been twice victimized. Once, by the chronic pain and fatigue of a debilitating illness. And once by the refusal of people in the medical community to take the illness seriously. Fibromyalgia has existed for as long as any other chronic disease, but it’s never had the same sort of attention from doctors as many other conditions. Patients are told that it’s in their head, or that they don’t really suffer from a disease, or that if they do it’s not that serious. But that’s finally begun to change. In fact, in a rare bit of good news for fibro sufferers, there’s a new fibromyalgia ICD 10 code.

The ICD, or the International Classification of Diseases, is a listing of all the different conditions that doctors have identified that helps in diagnosing and treating different diseases. So, for a condition to like fibromyalgia, which has never had its own listing before the latest, or 10th, edition of the ICD to get its own classification is the first sign that doctors are beginning to take it seriously. So, what’s the new classification of fibromyalgia? Why does it matter? And why has it taken this long for the condition to get recognized?

Fibromyalgia ICD 10

The ICD works by breaking diseases into classifications that are denoted by systems of numbers. It’s similar in that respect to the Dewey Decimal system used in libraries to classify books. Each type of disease receives its own number. Diseases in the 001-0139 range are infectious or parasitic diseases, for instance.

Fibromyalgia is grouped in the 700 range, which means that it’s related to the musculoskeletal system. The actual number in the ICD 10 for fibromyalgia is M79.7. That means that it’s classified as a musculoskeletal disorder (700), while also classified in the general category of myalgia, or muscle pain (9). The .7 is the actual differential for fibromyalgia, which now has its own classification.

And that’s good news when it comes to the struggle to get the condition the recognition it deserves.

Why Does It Matter?

The first step in finding a cure for any condition is for doctors to acknowledge that it exists and is a serious enough condition that it is worth investing research resources into. For a long time, fibromyalgia wasn’t even listed in the ICD, because doctors weren’t in agreement that it was even a real condition.

Obviously, that made the odds of finding a cure pretty long, since the condition received little attention or recognition. As the focus of the medical establishment has shifted towards understanding the condition, we’ve seen it move in the ICD from a subset of other conditions to being recognized as its own condition now in the ICD 10.

And while it may seem like a pretty small victory to get doctors to just realize that fibromyalgia is a real and distinct condition, it’s a big step forward towards getting the condition the resources we need to find a cure.

What’s Taken So Long?

Unfortunately, the road to this recognition has been a long one. Part of the issue with any illness like fibromyalgia, which doesn’t cause visible symptoms, is that people just don’t believe the people who suffer from it. It’s a sad fact of life that people are often not willing to empathize with others. And we often have a hard time accepting that someone could be in pain if we can’t “see” it.

Fibromyalgia doesn’t cause obvious symptoms that other people can see. Although the chronic pain and fatigue are incredibly obvious to people who live with it. After all, these people have their entire worlds turned upside down. They can’t do the same things that others take for granted. And they struggle twice as hard to just handle the day to day tasks that are a part of life.

So imagine how they feel to be told that they aren’t suffering from a real illness when their “fake” illness makes it impossible to live a normal life. But that same inability to accept pain we can’t see as being real has made it hard for doctors, who are people like anyone else and suffer from the same preconceptions, to accept that fibromyalgia is a physical illness. Luckily, the rise of awareness among the fibromyalgia community and the tireless efforts people with fibromyalgia have made together to get recognized finally seem to be making a difference.

So, keep it up, guys. Keep fighting for recognition and eventually a cure. People with fibromyalgia are always strongest together.

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Image from Pixabay.

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