CFS vs Fibromyalgia

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by hagardreams, Sep 17, 2006.

  1. hagardreams

    hagardreams New Member

    Please dont anyone knock me down, but I am trying to understand the difference between CFS and fibro. Is the only difference pain with fibro, and CFS is just the fatique? If not, what is the difference?
    Hope someone will explain this to me.
    God bless, Julie
  2. tlayne

    tlayne Member

    I think you asked a good question. I hope that nobody here would knock you down for asking it.

    I 'think' that CFS and FM are the same thing. When I first got this dd I noticed achy pain in the winter months, and then the fatigue "hit" me.

    I had the diagnosis of CFS first. I think it was because the fatigue is what I complained about the most. At that time the pain was at a minimal. Since then the pain has increased greatly. However, the pain can be controlled for me, but the fatigue increases even when I think that it can get no worse.

    Let's see what the others think....Hugs, Tam
  3. lenasvn

    lenasvn New Member

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is described as a severe, debilitating fatigue, lasting at least six months (of new and definite onset), associated with at least 4 of the following symptoms: impaired memory or concentration, sore throat, lymphadenopathy, muscle pains, joint pains, new headaches, unrefreshing sleep, and malaise after exertion. Other medical and psychiatric conditions that can produce fatigue should be ruled out, including Lyme's disease. After demanding physical exercise, CFS patients show impaired cognitive processing.

    Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FM) is a pain disorder associated with multiple tender points, sleep disturbances (insomnia and nonrestorative sleep) and fatigue. Hypothalamic dysfunction, immune dysfunction, and nutritional inadequacies can all cause or perpetuate this sometimes severe syndrome. CFS and FM may be opposite ends of the same disorder, with the emphasis on fatigue in CFS and pain in FM.
  4. Redwillow

    Redwillow New Member

    I have asked this question several times to several doctors and gotten different answers from each one.

    Since a lot of doctors don't even believe in these conditions I guess that is not too hard to understand.

    The first rheumy who diagnosed me said that I had FM/CFS and gave me information on both. She gave me the impression that they were one and the same and depending on which was your strongest symptom either pain or fatigue made the difference in the diagnosis. (Then told me she wasn't accepting any more FM/CFS patients and to find another doctor.)

    My next rheumy insisted that they were entirely different conditions and that I had FM not CFS. I asked this question because I was concerned about reading different suggestions about exercise depending on which condition you had.

    So for me I don't think I have gotten a satisfactory answer yet. Maybe someday in the future when blood tests or other diagnostic tests can be done we will know.....

    In the meantime I read all the information I can on both and then apply what I think works best for me.

    It will be interesting to see what other people think here.

    hugs Marion (Redwillow)
  5. musikmaker

    musikmaker New Member

    Julie, this is a worthwhile question that I have thought about often. The more I read the more I am of the belief that the 2 are one in the same. The symptoms overlap and many of us end up being diagnoised with both.

    It seems we get diagnoised with fibro if our primary/initial onset is pain and tender points. We get diagnoised with CFS as primary/initial if at onset we are suffering from fatigue.

    Hopefully, as the medical profession learns more about our illness it will become more clear.
  6. carebelle

    carebelle New Member

    I believe you are Right. I believe they both go together sooner or later.Two parts of the same DD
  7. shell

    shell New Member

    The symptoms very much overlap. I do know that with my CFS though I do have chronic sore throats/ flem. I get sick very easily and have had EBV and several other strange viruses. I am tired all the time. The things I have had similar to FM is the aching and stabbing pains, IC, and a lot of the same neurologic memory loss and dizziness. I believe they are related to each other.
  8. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    What Haleycole said or to put it another way, they're different sides of the same rotten apple. Still, it's important here to know which the author of a post has as a primary symptom because their regimen might not apply to you. Exercise is a good example since those of us with CFS do very poorly with exercise and those with FM seem to tolerate it better - unless they have symtoms of both equally which I think can happen depending on the trigger.

  9. NyroFan

    NyroFan New Member


    I would say the difference would be that fibromyalgia has more pain involved. Just a guess....I will read on here and see what everyone else has to say.

  10. dononagin

    dononagin New Member

    diagnosed with CFS 10 years before I was diagnosed with Fibro.. I knew alot of my symptoms didn't go with the cfs diagnosis..
    My Rhumie says they are so much the same the may as well be one. He had me list my top 2 symptoms.. I told him fatigue and pain. So he diagnosed me CFS/Fibro.. He said the difference is in CFS fatigue is the greatest symptom. In Fibro, pain is the greatest.
    I do know that I get swollen lymph nodes and fevers that are definatly more CFS. But have all the symptoms of both. I think many of us have both, or an overlap.
    I believe when they find the cure for one, they will probably find the cure for both..
    Hugs! Dona
  11. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    If you look at the symptoms for ME it comprises both diseases. It seems to be the US via CDC that has mostly broken them into 2 dx's.

    If you think of CFS/FM as the same, but like IBS it seems easy to see them as the same. IBS has two classes, IBS-C, IBS-D. My case has evolved to both C&D alternating. I believe I have ME, the full syndrome, it just depends on what day or mth you ask me what my symptoms are. I lean to the FM side most of the time, but can fall into the CFS side if I push myself for too long.

    Most docs I've met believe its the same. Maybe it serves a diagnostic purpose to classify them as different, but, it certainly helps my morale to think of myself as only having one disease to deal w/.

  12. Redwillow

    Redwillow New Member

    Jeanne I didn't know there were two kinds of IBS. IBS -C and IBS -D.

    What is the difference? Or is that constipation and diahrea? If so I have both depending on the day and the level of my stress.

    It is interesting that most people here think that CFS and FM are from the same condition and yet my rheumy is determined that they are two different conditions.

    Maybe she wants to be paid twice????? LOL

    hugs Marion

  13. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    I'm not sure if doctors class IBS as different. I just see it on the board alot. When people are reporting their symtoms or asking for help they'll say my problem is IBS-D. If I look up IBS it says that you alternate between diarrhea and constipation, but that some patients lean one way or the other.

  14. Redwillow

    Redwillow New Member

    Thanks Jeanne

    Thank you for replying to my question about IBS. I have never heard IBS referred this way before so I thought I had better ask instead of just assuming I knew something.

    Has gotten me in trouble before assuming I know something about an illness.

    I would also love to read some more information about what you said about classifying CFS and FM as ME. I feel I have both, the CFS symptoms come and go for me depending on how much stress I have in my life. But the FM is definitely here all the time.

    I get so confused reading different doctors report. Some doctors think the two illness are totally different and some think they are the same.

    hugs Marion (Redwillow)
  15. shar6710

    shar6710 New Member

    It is a very good question.

    I have read that many MDs think it is the same. One theory is that FM patients have a lower tolerance for pain and so that is their chief complaint and other patients with higher pain tolerance complain first of fatigue. Please no one get upset, this Dr was not discounting anyone's pain.

    I have been dx with CFS but I have terrible pain at times. But the fatigue came on first and then the pain set in months later. Perhaps the opposite is true of FM sufferers.

    May we all live to see the mystery solved! Soon!
  16. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    I tend to think they're related but not exactly the same.

    I've been sick for 11 years and the fibro has always been a minor symptom for me. i get it mostly when I am taking certain medications or have recently had chemical exposure. When I read the fibro posts on this board, I don't identify with them much at all (although I feel very bad for the folks who are going through all that pain).

    I'd like to know if those people who have the severe fibro problems seem to have the same endocrine and immune problems that "plain" CFS patients have, either as measued by lab testing or as manifested in terms of responsiveness to various treatments.

    This is a really good (actually crucial) question for discussion, by the way.

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