difference between CFS and Fibromyalgia

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by quilp, Oct 22, 2006.

  1. quilp

    quilp New Member

    Can anyone tell me if there is a difference ? Is one worse than the other, do they overlap, do they have a similar prognosis ?
    Thanks in advance, Mark
  2. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member


    except less than a handful of symptoms. This is why you see FM/CFS lumped together in medical journals, research and support places. Because the majority of our symptoms we have in common.

    I suppose to say FM or CFS shows what side you tend to lean on though. Some people waffle back and forth, and some display the symptoms of both most of the time. W/ most diseases you'll have variance of symptoms from one person to the next, so...


    Jeanne
  3. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    Is one worse? I think the CFS side is usually more disabling. Again that depends on the severity of it too. I'm always amazed when people w/ CFS can still work, but you can have a milder case of CFS than someone on the FM side who has it severe.

    I think the prognosis for "both" is the same, esp. given that I think its the same syndrome.

    I think it is a kick in the morale to weigh us down w/ too many different diagnoses, instead of seeing it as one syndrome. It's easier to have hope to get over FM, which is how I sum my condition up, than to live w/ the burden of having FM/CFS/MCS/SAD/IBS, which I've all be dx'd w/.


    Jeanne
  4. dani78xo

    dani78xo New Member

    they're similar, but FM is supposed to be more painful (ie. the trigger points.) CFS is more of the fatigue (hence the name).

    there isn't really any way to define which is worse--both of them are different in every person who has it. one person may barely have any symptoms, while another is basically bedridden from them.

    they can overlap. i have both CFS and FMS, and i've heard of a lot of other people who have both, too.


    i think they do have a similar pronosis...though i hear more about people getting better from FMS rather than CFS. the CFS is the absolute worst for me. i've gotten rid of all the pain of the FM, but there's pretty much no way to get rid of the fatigue from the CFS.


    both illnesses are really quite vague and unpredictable.
  5. Roseblossom

    Roseblossom Member

    I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I do not have Fibromyalgia - I do not Fibro's intense pain that requires pain medication, or the tender points, or irritable bowel syndrome, or "fibrofog".

    I read the comments of people on this board who have Fibromyalgia and it sounds very different from my illness, including the symptoms, challenges and what people find to be effective treatments.

    My defining symptom is the hallmark of CFS - Post Exertional Malaise.

    I can't exercise, only gentle movement to stretch and strengthen muscles. No aerobic exercise program is possible for me as even a minute or two results in breathlessness, weakness, and faintness followed by a crash and flare.

    I think that there are "subgroups" of CFSers, whose illness is caused by different combinations of stressors - some of us are sick because of a virus, some because of neurotransmitter dysfunction, others because of mycoplasmas, or some combination of stressors including genetics, etc - there is no one-size-fits-all cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

    I always read the posts that have CFS / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the title, and feel irritated by responses referencing Fibromyalgia treatments that don't hold true for CFS, and only confuse the issue.

    However, I do like the posts discussing the coping skills & lifestyle challenges common to both illnesses.

    I do know that some people can have both Fibromyalgia and CFS, as well as other illnesses. This is known as Comorbidity. But simply having similar symptoms in common doesn't lead to the conclusion that they're the same illness.

    Roseblossom
  6. yodasmom

    yodasmom New Member

    Hi
    I have both fibro and cfs and the biggest diff. to me

    besides the total wipe out post malaise fatigue is with

    CFS I actually feel really Sick as in Flu like virus all

    the time and esp bad in flare ups as I have right now

    that will not subside. Does anyone else ahve this viral stuff?
  7. tinktink

    tinktink New Member

    Mark, I am currently looking into this same issue. I was diagnosed with FM a couple of months ago but since learning more I believe I have had CFS since I was a child. Best Advice I have is keep reading postings. You get a lot of good info to help you decide what is actually bothering you. Good Luck on your own research.

    Yes Yodasmom I have felt like I have had the flu everyday for the last year and a half.... sigh.

    Best wishes to you both Diana
  8. BILLCAMO

    BILLCAMO New Member

    not seen stated yet..... At least Fibro has the "pressure point test " that some Drs. will accept as "proof" of Fibro..

    As far as I know , there is no such test for CFS/CFIDS. It remains a "process of elimination".

    Neither DD is a joy ride. And either one...or both...are usually debilitating.

    Which one is worse? IMHO....they are both bad.

    Blessings ,

    b/c
  9. cfaye

    cfaye New Member

    I started out with CFS and had it for three years before the doctor found fibromyalgia. The CFS caused disabeling fatigue, and flu symptoms. I felt as if I had a terrible case of the flu which did not go away. I was so sick that I was bedfast with dizziness , stomaach problems, eye seizures,nausea , fever etc. I can't even remember all of them . I then started being in terrible pain and my doctor tested the points on my body for tenderness for FM. He thinks they are two seperate disorders and other people have other opinions but as for myself I fell they are two
    different ones. You can have one or the other or they can overlap yet both are monsters. I do know some persons who only have Fm and travel and go on with life. I can't even go out to eat so this tells me that there is a difference.
    Thanks cfaye
  10. Forebearance

    Forebearance Member

    Hi, Mark!

    This is just my opinion. I think they are different illnesses, but perhaps the same cause can result in different illnesses depending on the person.

    I think I just have CFS, because I don't have the acute muscle pain that feels like being stabbed with knives and keeps one from sleeping that FM people have. I don't NEED to take constant serious pain killers.

    I just feel like I've had the flu very badly for 16 years.

    It seems like on this board there are more people with FM who are working in spite of feeling lousy, and more people with CFS who are too disabled to work.

    Forebearance
  11. Spacey_sjca

    Spacey_sjca New Member

    I wouldn't have classed my symptoms a CFS until ya'll started listing the flu-like symptoms as differentiating it from FMS. Well, I have lots of pain, which is bad enough, but what makes me miss work is feeling sick sick sick and weak like a baby. For years I've had episodes that feel like the flu and I can't walk down the hallway without leaning on the wall for the dizziness and exhaustion. They last for a week or so and then just go away leaving me with just the pain.
    I have an appt with my rheumy tomorrow and will bring this up with her.

    Spacey
  12. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    I agree with everything Roseblossom said in her post.

    I knew little about fibro before joining this board. Since I've been here, I find that the challenges of people with fibro are vastly different than my own. (I certainly have lots of sympathy for those with fibro, however!)

    The symptoms may overlap and some people have both, but these problems seem quite different in terms of both their severity and in terms of what is helpful.

    It is not my observation that most people on the board are similar in most ways (other than their disability and difficulties in getting better). Occasionally I will come across someone who seems to have both, but not often.

    The fact that fibro usually does not grow into "classic" CFS and that CFS usually does not precede debilitating fibro (although there certainly may be some muscle stiffness and tender points from time to time) further suggests that these are two separate diseases.

    Lumping CFS and fibro into the same category does none of us any good. It only confuses doctors, who may think that patients from the two groups are much more similar than they are.

    Eventually the medical community will figure this out. They're pretty slow though, so I give them five years.

    The Netherlands being the exception maybe.....my one experience with the healthcare system there was extremely good. Carla's understanding and treatment of her illness is largely due to her own research, but I think she would have made much slower progress if she had been in the U.S. or many other countries (European or otherwise).

    I am at least 99.5% certain that my own illness is primarily genetic, influenced only a small bit by external factors (mostly a head injury). It is appearing increasingly clear that my primary problem is deficient immune functioning. The cognitive symptoms that I experience are far worse when invaders are present, and I think those are a result of the problems that result from the deficient immune system. I'm not sure about my autoimmune problems (e.g. food allergies), but those could be related to viruses as well. Viruses also could be attacking my endocrine system and brain. Whether these are _all_ due to the deficient immune system is still not certain for me, but the immune system seems to be the key.

    I know little about fibro, but if I had to take a stab in the dark, I would state that it was a mixture of chemical toxicity and genetic predisposition to being affected by this (rather than just by a deficient immune system). This is akin to the "Canary and the Coal Mine" theory floated a while back. I'd like to see immune system genetic testing and functioning reports on fibro patients to see how they compare with mine (and those of other CFS sufferers). That would make it much more clear to me whether the same causes are resulting in the symptoms.

    Personally, I find the fibro postings on this board to be distracting (especially since I often cannot tell whether the posters have fibro or CFS). I imagine that many fibro patients feel the same way about my postsl

    I'd like to hear suggestions on how this confusion on the board might be addressed. I have my history on my bio page, which is a starting point but not necessarily sufficient.
  13. Forebearance

    Forebearance Member

    Boy, I sure agree with you that it makes my life a lot more difficult to have to wade through all the FM postings on this board, as well as the chit-chat.

    And I agree that many times when someone suggests something, I can't tell if the person is referring to CFS or Fibro treatment.

    It makes me post and read less than I otherwise might because it's so draining.

    Forebearance
  14. tandy

    tandy New Member


    I think no-one can answer that question.

    and No,
    ..one is'nt worse than the other.
    How can anyone say that one is worse than the other since BOTH conditions are so much the same that they may just be ONE illness.

    and,..
    Both illnesses have such varying degrees of severity,from mild to totally disabling. (and everything in between)

    Who's to say which is worse.?
    I say neither one is a walk in the park~

    Take care~
    Tandy
  15. bigmama2

    bigmama2 New Member

    I have CFS only, with main symptom being severe fatigue. I've had it for 12 years, but only got officially diagnosed in June 06. I have other typical symptoms- IBS, insomnia, or sleeping for 15 hours straight, allergies, asthma, hypo-thyroid, suspected low adrenal function, etc.

    Regarding pain- I have foot pain (heel spurs), and degenerative disc disease in low back. To me these pains are not fibro, becuase they are caused by spurs, and disc disease. However in the last year I began having MAJOR muscle pain, tightness in neck and upperback everyday. Kept getting worse, and I was afraid I was developing fibro on top of CFS.

    Thank God, I found out it was "just" more disc disease in my neck,(and not fibro) and thru treatment that pain is gone. (I need to write a full post on this, because I am very lucky to have that horrible neck pain gone. Treatment was anti inflam meds, anti spasm meds, pain meds, physical therapy= ultrasound, electrical stimulation (TENS), exercises, and last but not least TRACTION!! I think the traction was the most important in relieving the pain.)

    so my point is that I think CFS and Fibro are two different disorders that share many symptoms. I have always understood the sufffering of the fatigue of CFSers, but it wasn't until my neck problem that I had a taste of the pain Fibro patients have. Then there are the "lucky"people who have both. My heart goes out to all of us, and I am so thankful for this board where we can support and help each other.

    BigMama2

  16. Gothbubbles

    Gothbubbles New Member

    I STILL don't understand why people think CFS and FM are the same.

    If we compare lists of symptoms we could say MS and Lupus are the same as CFS and FM!

    But they're not.

    If you experience real, full-on CFS you know the difference. You cannot just "Work through the pain". It doesn't matter how important or necessary it is. You just CAN NOT. Because your body refuses to even move for you.

    With fibro, you have to go through intense pains, for some people the pain never stops. But if you wanted, you could "Work through the pain". Because even though your body is screaming, it still obeys you.

    Biggest difference between CFS and FM is that they're seperate diseases. Period. Some people have both. Many people do not.

    CFS 6 1/2 years, multiple friends with fibro.
  17. tandy

    tandy New Member

    says or assumes I can 'work thru the pain'? with FM
    No,....I'm afraid I can't.
    Hence: disabilty since 96.

    and secondly: your body obeys you everytime you use the bathroom.
    unless your using a bedpan? in which case
    you'd definatly be one of the worse cases I've heard of.

    Some believe the 2 are the same,..some think they are totally different illnesses.
    Nobody knows.

    Take care :)
  18. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    There are obviously different opinions on this regardless if they are different illness. I believe, after 12 years of CFS and a year of added FM, that they both originate from the same problem (neurotransmitter dysfunction) and are actually the same illness. Which symptoms we have depends on our genetic makeup.

    Some day I hope we'll have the entire answer. Oh, and Bill, I was diagnosed using the trigger points even though the dx. was CFS. Go figure.

    Marta
    [This Message was Edited on 10/28/2006]
  19. Gothbubbles

    Gothbubbles New Member

    I know that fibro is really painful, and I also wrote about how bad that pain is. But most people with fibro alone live more active lives than people with cfs alone. Which was what I was trying to say in the other post.

    There are many illnesses that have similar symptoms, and even overlap.

    I have a friend with lupus AND fibro. Does that mean that lupus and fibro are the same disease? I don't think it does.

    I know many people with only cfs, or only fibro, and not both. So why would that mean they are the same disease? I don't think that makes sense to me.

    People with only CFS don't suffer the same pain as fibro, which was a part I didn't make clear (stupid brain fog). I think of fibro as PAIN and cfs as FATIGUE. Though I would say that for both some people hate other symptoms more (cognitive problems, sleep problems, migraines), and some people with only fibro have fatigue, but it's just not the same. And some people with cfs have pain, but it's just not the same.

    Some people diagnosed with cfs may lead a more active life than you have! Though in general, I think if you ask around you will find more people who have fibro can work full time or drive cars, or do other things. It's good that they can! And I know they have to make countless sacrifices in order to do that.

    I don't envy you your pain. It's not fun, or easy. But you lead a more active life. You have a family. You suffer every day, and it's not fair.

    I don't have that pain. But I have times when am so tired I can not lift my head, I can't get up all day (I got a urinary tract infection from this habit). No bedpan, because there's no one to take care of me if I had one. I am lucky to be able to work 8 hours a week (At a sit-down job).

    Certainly people have both diseases. And to people with both, it might be impossible to tell which symptoms come from cfs, and which from fibro. I still think they are different.
  20. Scapper

    Scapper New Member

    I'm not posting to get into this splitting of hairs discussion and certainly not saying one is ever worse than the other. As mentioned, there are varying degrees to every illness, as well as overlapping of symptoms. This doesn't mean they are one in the same.

    I have both FM & CFS. I had FM for about 5 years before getting SICK with CFS. HUGE DIFFERENCE.

    Yes, FM sucked the joy out of my life and left me in constant pain. I, personally, was able to still work, have a social life and be a member of society in spite of pain.

    The sudden onset of viral-induced CFS floored me and has kept me completely debilitated for almost 12 years now, with all of the viral symptoms, cognitive impairment and exhaustion beyond comprehension.

    Living with both is no picnic. I often pray to not be in so much pain so my body doesn't stiffen up all over from being in bed so much from CFS.

    For me, CFS is worlds away from FM, regardless of some of the overlaping of symptoms.

    scapper