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Is There A Difference Between Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Does Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome seem to similar to be different?

Is there a difference between Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or are they basically the same condition with two different names? Quite often, the two are diagnosed together. Although they have several overlapping symptoms, there are a couple ofΒ distinct differences.

Is there really a difference between Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Click To Tweet

Difference Between Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Common in both FMS and CFS:

  • dizziness

  • impaired concentration (brain fog)

  • headaches and migraines

  • sleeplessness/insomnia

  • IBS/bowel complaints

  • anxiety

  • depression

More unique to FMS:

  • widespread pain that is chronic

  • ‘tender points’ ~ apply pressure with pad of thumb, hold for 4 seconds, if there is pain this is a tender point

  • exaggerated pain response (higher pain level to stimuli than what is considered reasonable)

More unique to CFS:

  • ‘lead like’ fatigue, difficulty in keeping your head lifted, feeling as if you weigh a thousand pounds in the chair you are sitting in

  • sore throat

  • enlarged lymph nodes

  • ‘achy’ flu-like feeling


by permision from Gemma Correll

So what does this mean? Well, until they can pin point exactly what causes FMS and CFS, its hard to say. I think the hypothesis regarding FMS being a result of extreme hardship on the central nervous system makes the most sense:

Validating Post-Traumatic Fibromyalgia 2 ~ The Connection Between Abuse & FMS Development

Validating Post-Traumatic Fibromyalgia ~ The Connection Between Physical Trauma and FMS

Whereas Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has often been associated with viral illnesses:

CFS Epstein Barr Virus Connection, Key To A Cure?

Although CFS & FMS have several overlapping symptoms, there are a couple of distinct… Click To Tweet

Is There A Difference Between Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

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  • Reply
    October 21 at 5:31 am

    Kristine, thank you for this helpful post. I’ve never been diagnosed with CFS, only FMS, but I do have periods that I experience that “lead like” fatigue. I often have explained it to others as lying in bed or on the sofa and trying to figure out how I am going to manage to get to the bathroom. I’ve never really thought of CFS…just assumed that it was part of the FMS. I’d be interested in your thoughts. Thanks so much.

    • Reply
      October 21 at 11:17 am

      Thanks Dianna. I know that feeling. I would speak with your physician and bring any concerns you have to him/her. It could be FMS or any # of health issues. Good luck, let me know how it goes! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    October 21 at 8:13 am

    I once read an article that stated the only difference was the degree of fatigue vs. muscle aches. I believe it is a hybrid or crossover. Sometimes it is impossible for me to move, the pain is so great and widespread. At other times not so much, but it feels like a knockout punch was delivered and there was not enough energy to even lift my head from the pillow. That these two are intertwined seems to be a given for me, though for some reason I’ve never had swollen lymph glands/nodes.

    Once a new doc had asked if I had ever been abused as a child. This really surprised me. I had not, and it made me a bit angry that the question would even come up. Now I understand why it was asked.

    My fatigue started in spurts during the ’70s for no apparent reason. It was one of the better times in my life. But the widespread pain and nerve dysfunction can be traced to a badly broken wrist and the botched surgeries that followed. So in a way, I am still confused!

    Great article, thank you.

    • Reply
      October 21 at 11:24 am

      Thank you Sharon! I understand why you would take offense at his question, not understanding why he would ask that. I’m impressed he would acknowledge the legitimacy of the condition through his question. I agree w/ you that there are so many ‘crossovers’ with these diseases. Glad you are here πŸ˜‰

  • Reply
    October 24 at 9:50 am

    Enjoyed reading your post. I have both FMS and CFS (along with Lyme Disease.) This explains the differences very well! Pinning for later reference. =)
    Valerie recently posted…How To Cope With Hair Loss In Chronic IllnessMy Profile

    • Reply
      October 24 at 7:28 pm

      Thank you Valerie! You poor thing…all that AND Lyme! β™₯ and prayers to you πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    October 27 at 4:19 am

    All my consultants over the years have agreed that FMS and CFS are the same thing or 2 sides of the same coin. Not every patient will have all the symptoms though when diagnosed so it’s down to the Dr which name they use. I vary between the symptoms day to day or even hour to hour so I could be either. I was told that I have both though as they are the same. It seems to be the consensus here in Wales at least.
    Cathy recently posted…Illness envyMy Profile

    • Reply
      October 27 at 9:28 am

      Hi Cathy! Yes, I’ve read the same thing. That could very well be true, considering they have yet to pin down EXACTLY what is causing these conditions. It could be that some day there will be ‘sub-categories’ depending on what the various causes are. We shall see. Thank you! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    October 31 at 4:16 pm

    I feel for you. Or anyone with these symptoms, my prayers are with you and the ladies above. As we learn more, take care of ourselves better and eat better I am hoping that I will feel good for longer periods of time. And someday they have to figure this stuff out, right?
    Nikki recently posted…My “Ah Ha Moments” in BloggingMy Profile

    • Reply
      November 1 at 4:13 pm

      Agreed Nikki! And thank you so much πŸ™‚ Prayers for you too my friend β™₯

  • Reply
    December 21 at 8:06 pm

    I have both Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. I also have had a DVT in my life. Like a lot of fibromyalgia patients I have TMJ. I am caretaker sometimes to older parents who have had serious health issues in the last few years. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 25 yrs ago. I had never heard of it. I went to a few doctors and they all said the same thing. The chronic fatigue diagnosis came a few years later. I was working 40-60 hours a week at this time too. I got married and then shortly afterwards I developed the DVT. I ended up not working a regular job but still was either working and tending to family. I was able to keep the fibromyalgia and everything to a dull roar until the last few years. This past summer in particular everything blossomed and I have been trying to climb back to where I was able to manage things . I am getting there. I have come to the realization that I have to tend to myself in order to help others. It has taken me a long time to come to this point. There are a lot of times when I have to put this in my head again that it is OK to take care of me at times too.

    • Reply
      December 21 at 10:46 pm

      Very true Maureen! Self-care is of utmost importance in order to have anything to give to others. Are you treating your FMS with any medication? Check out my article that will be published tommorow on LDN. I am finding excellent results πŸ™‚

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