Similarities & Differences between FM and MS

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia and ME & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome' started by Chrissy2, Apr 16, 2003.

  1. Chrissy2

    Chrissy2 New Member

    I'm hoping someone can answer this question: since FM and MS have so many overlapping symptoms, how do they diagnose one verses the other? What are the difference between the two?

    God Bless :eek:)
    Chrissy
    [This Message was Edited on 04/19/2003]
  2. Chrissy2

    Chrissy2 New Member

    Hi, again -- just wanted to bump this up to see if anyone might have a response...

    Thanks!
  3. Susan07

    Susan07 New Member

    There is a test that can be done for MS. I had it done a few years ago. It was painful (which surprised the tech) but definitely ruled out MS. My podiatrist who didn't believe in FM was made a believer in FM because he sent me to the nuerologist for the MS test!
  4. SPR30

    SPR30 New Member

    I know it helps to have an catscan to detect MS. A doctor can see if there are (white) spots of plaque on the brain which is one sign of MS. (If by MS you mean multiple sclerosis) Some people refer to Myofascial Pain Syndrome as MS, when in fact MPS is the proper reference. Not sure which disease you are talking about, but hope I have helped.
    Excuse me, maybe it is an MRI of the brain, not a catscan.
    [This Message was Edited on 04/22/2003]
  5. dhcpolwnk

    dhcpolwnk New Member

    Since I have both multiple sclerosis (MS) and fibromyalgia, maybe I can help a little bit. I've had MS much longer than fibro; so please forgive me for any mistakes I may make about the fibro.

    The most commonly used diagnostic test for MS these days is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)--*not* CAT scans. As far as I know, CAT scans do absolutely no good in diagnosing MS. However, MRI machines may look something like CAT scanners. (To be honest, I'm not sure about that, as I've never had a CAT scan.)

    In addition to the MRI (sometimes of both the brain and spinal cord but often just of the brain), a thorough medical history is essential to an accurate diagnosis. Typically, the doctor will look for a history of neurological attacks separated by weeks, months or years, with partial or complete remissions between attacks. The doctor also looks for attacks/remissions that affect different parts of the body over a prolonged period.

    This pattern is describes the most common form of MS, the relapsing-remitting form. In a minority of cases, the disease starts out as progressive, and in many cases, the relapsing-remitting form evolves into secondary progressive MS. (That's where my MS is now, though I also appear to be getting occasional exacerbations within the secondary progressive form.)

    Many of the symptoms I have experienced with MS definitely resemble fibro symptoms. These include balance problems, coordination problems, fatigue, bowel problems, and visual problems. The symptoms that led to my MS diagnosis were mostly visual, including optic neuritis (which is often, but not necessarily, associated with MS) and double vision. I don't know about optic neuritis, but I think I've read that double vision can result from fibromyalgia effects on the eye muscles.

    In addition to the above, I have experienced what I call "semi-numbness" on my right side (which lasted about two months) and a dragging leg (which I guess was at least partly paralyzed). My most prominent symptom these days is myoclonic jerks during the day (not to be confused with Restless Leg Syndrome, which can affect people with both MS and fibromyalgia).

    Years ago, I also experienced a strange electric-like sensation called Lhermitte's Sign when I bent my head forward. It felt as if my head was a light switch. I would feel a sharp tingling along my spine and into my feet as long as my head was bent (chin on chest). But as soon as I lifted my head, the tingling went away. My neurologist told me at the time that this really convinced him of my diagnosis.

    When I was first diagnosed, the MRI wasn't yet being used. Instead, patients who might have MS typically were given spinal taps and evoked potential tests, both of which I had. When I finally had my first MRI in 1985, it showed just a few small spots, but my more recent MRIs have shown "extensive white matter disease." So I'm sure the diagnosis was correct in my case.

    MS can vary greatly both from person to person and, for one individual, from day to day or even hour to hour. If you want more authoritative information about MS, I suggest that you go to the web site of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. You should be able to find it by doing a Google search. You also can call 1-800-FIGHT-MS and select the voice menu option to talk to a live person at the chapter closest to the phone you're calling from. I think one of the other options allows you to just request printed literature about MS.

    As far as I know, fibromyalgia doesn't show the same kind or number of lesions in the brain as MS (at least, later MS). But not all MS lesions may show up on an MRI, either. The MS lesions are the result of damage to the myelin sheath that protects the brain and spinal cord. (That's the white matter of the brain.) I recently read that fibromyalgia patients also may show lesions on an MRI scan. I don't know whether a radiologist can distinguish between MS and fibro lesions. I understand that there are two different types of MS lesions that can be seen on an MRI if the radiologist knows to look for them, but I don't remember all the details about this.

    As for the pain of MS diagnostic testing, the spinal tap is no picnic. The MRI, however, really is no big deal unless you're clostrophobic or super-sensitive to loud noises (which I realize many fibro patients may be). Your head and upper body are rolled into a kind of tube, and magnetic resonance is used to create a series of pictures of cross-sections of your brain. You have to lie still while the pictures are being taken, but I asked ahead of time if I could move in between the pictures, and that was allowed.

    If the doctor asks for a "contrast medium," you may be wheeled out of the tube and injected with a dye, then wheeled back in. My first MRI lasted about 45 minutes, but I think the last one lasted less than 20.

    When they're taking the MRI pictures, you hear a rat-a-tat sound similar to a jackhammer. Wearing ear plugs worked fine for me, though I could still hear the muffled sound. If your doctor wants you to have an MRI and you're nervous about either claustrophobia or the noise, talk to her/him about it. Maybe they can come up with a solution to help.

    By the way, I think somebody on this thread mentioned that somebody had MS since age 9. That's certainly not impossible, but it's very rare. Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 15 and 50. (They used to say between 20 and 40, but I think the diagnostic tools have gotten better.)

    I hope this information is of some help. Feel free to ask more questions if you have them. If you wish, you can contact me directly at af752@lafn.org.

    By the way, I'd sure like to know how to distinguish MS from fibro symptoms, too! Since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia last August, that's been a real tough one for me to deal with, and my doctors don't seem to know any more than I do (if as much).

    In any case, please don't let the idea of an MS diagnosis scare you away from checking it out. I've lived with MS for more than 25 years, and I have a very full and rewarding life. Also, there are drugs available now that can affect the underlying course of the disease, reducing the number of attacks and the long-term accumulation of disability. These drugs weren't available when I was first diagnosed. If you do have a relapsing form of MS, it's important for you to at least discuss going on one of these drugs with your doctor.

    Good luck to you.

    --Laura R.M.
  6. ForeverFlaring

    ForeverFlaring New Member

    A huge fear that my family has is that MS could be genetic. My grandmother died in her 50's from complications of MS. I have never been able to find out if this is genetic or not and I always forget to ask my docs.
  7. Fibromiester

    Fibromiester New Member

    Just wanted to Thank You for your thoughtful answer here!!

    Love,

    Fibromiester
  8. Solstice

    Solstice New Member

    i too want to thank Laura for her sharing and such extensive information.

    I would like to add that if you do get an MRI, there are three things I would suggest to make it easier to cope with.

    Work on reducing your fear. Go on a mental vacation while you are experiencing it. Visualize something that makes you happy and calm. Be somewhere else. Ok this one just came to me......now the other three:

    Do wear ear plugs, If you think you will feel clostraphobic or anxiety, do ask your doc to give you some med that you can take to help you feel calm while you are doing the test, and also, I brought in one of my calming music CD's that help put me in lala land. And they will play it for you so that you can hear it in the machine you are in during the test. Even though I had the ear plugs on to help muffle the loud bump sounds of the machine, I could hear the music. Then I told my brain which sounds I wanted it to listen to .............the music, while I visualized myself on a warm sandy beach somewhere.

    Peace,

    Solstice

  9. dhcpolwnk

    dhcpolwnk New Member

    In answer to your question about MS and genetics, MS is *not* genetic in the sense that it simply passes from parent to child. However, there seem to be some families where many members have MS. As I recall, research is being done on these clusters and I know there has been research on genetic aspects of the disease.

    I think the current thinking is that you can inherit a *tendency* toward getting MS, but MS is *not* itself transmitted genetically. There also may be environmental factors that help account for the "clusters" of MS cases in certain families. I think if you have other family members with MS, your odds of getting it increase, but it a mother has MS, the odds are still *against* the child's getting it. It's just that if you have a close relative with MS, you are more likely to get it than if you *didn't* have a close relative with MS.

    Tthe relationship that would concern me most from a genetic standpoint would be an identical twin who had developed MS, because that would involve the same genetic makeup. But I believe there have been studies of identical twins, and not all identical twins of people who had MS also had the disease. The correlation of MS in identical twins *was* significantly higher than in fraternal twins and other siblings, however. All this suggests that while there is a genetic component, MS isn't completely governed by genetics.

    What I've heard for years is that developing MS involves many factors, including both a genetic susceptibility and exposure to some infectious (but not contagious) agent, probably some kind of virus, in childhood that sets up the immune system to later turn against the myelin sheath (the white matter of the brain and spinal cord) that protect the nerves. This is the auto-immune aspect of MS.

    I believe the search for the infectious agent is still going on. At one point, it was believed to be the measles virus (or whatever it is that causes measles), but I believe that idea has been rejected (though it sure would fit me, as I had a very bad case of measles as a child). I'm not sure what the current suspects are for the infectious agent.

    I hope this makes you feel a little less anxious--or at least a little better informed.

    --Laura R.M.

    =====
    At 04/20/03 12:35 AM, foreverflaring asked:

    Is MS genetic
    A huge fear that my family has is that MS could be genetic. My grandmother died in her 50's from complications of MS. I have never been able to find out if this is genetic or not and I always forget to ask my docs
  10. Annette2

    Annette2 New Member

    I have fibromyalgia and my identical twin sister doesn't. Go figure.....

    Annette2
  11. ForeverFlaring

    ForeverFlaring New Member

    Thanks for your explanation. It does make sense, so at least I am better informed. I am still ill at ease about the whole thing as I have many symptoms of MS...but I have never had a doc who wanted to invest the time to check into it.
  12. danisue22

    danisue22 New Member

    MRI's there is such a machine called an open MRI which I've used on many occasions when I had Bells Palsey.I cannot be in closed areas.I don't care how much music or earplugs there are.I am just terrifed.So when the Doctor said MRI .I ask for an open one and there was a hospital close by that had the machine.I hope this helps those afraid of closed in places. Danisue
  13. jkd7058

    jkd7058 New Member

    When I was first experiencing my symptoms my doctor had me have an MRI to rule out MS. After seeing the test results I had to go to a neurologist for further testing. She ran me through a number of tests (pin pick here and there, touch your nose with your finger, etc). She then showed me my MRI results and why my doctor had sent me to her. I had numerous leisons (white dots) on my tests which can indicate MS. But due to the "hands on" testing she did, she feels very sure that the diagnosis of FM is correct. She will have me get another MRI one year from the first. If the leisons have moved or become more numerous, then she said we should think of having the spinal tap.
  14. dhcpolwnk

    dhcpolwnk New Member

    In answer to jkd7058's question, MS *is* a progressive disease, but the new MS drugs are reducing the long-term accumulation of disability. Also, in some people, the disease may stabilize or be progressing at such a slow rate that it's virtually unnoticeable, at least for very long periods of time. (Until the exacerbation I had that led to my starting on Avonex treatment, I hadn't had an exacerbation in about 8 years. From what I could tell, my condition was stable. It was my neurologist who said it was secondary progressive--but, he emphasized--very slowly progressive.)

    As far as FM and progression is concerned, I'm not the expert. However, from what I've read on this board and in Devin Starlanyl's book, I think you are correct about FM *not* being progressive. I'm sure others will correct me if I'm wrong about this.

    --Laura R.M.



  15. cmcm

    cmcm New Member

    I was so greatful to see this post this morning. As I have an appointment with a Neurologist tomorrow morning because of concerns of MS. It is a scary thing to worry about. I have been diagnosised with FM, but I still have worries of MS. It is so hard to when so many symptoms are overlapping.
    I have fatigue, muscle weakness, balance issues, my eye sight changed suddenly (need reading glasses), also had an episode with my left eye, looked like I was looking through a pool of water. I have dizziness too. I have aches and pains here and there, but nothing I take meds for. The only med I am on at this time is Trazadone to help me sleep at night. But the muscle fatigue bothers me the most. I have such a hard time holding my arms up, to blow dry my hair, read a paper, wash windows etc. I find I have trouble at times with stairs. My legs feel heavy. My arms and legs go to sleep alot, that pins and needles affect. I have had numbnessin the left side of my face. It feels like novicane wearing off. The heat really bothers me too. If I try and lay under the heating blanket to sooth my legs, it actually makes them feel worse. The heat from a hot water shower or even the heat of the house or car, make me feel ill. I guess I just want answers. I just want to know what I am dealing with. Laura, maybe you can give me some thoughts on my symptoms since you have MS. I have not had an MRI yet. But I am hopeful the neuro I see tomorrow will order one.
    ARe there any clear symptoms that can be seen different between the FM and MS????

    Hugs,
    Cheryl
  16. kredca4

    kredca4 New Member

    I just wanted to mention that some of the Symptoms you listed are also symptoms of Chronic Myofascial Pain, with FMS. You might want to look up the symptoms of these 2 Syndromes and how they effect each other.

    I thought that I had MS, or AS, but after much testing, including MRI's, i have so far been dx with the Combo only.
    Lupus is also something that I am Tested for along with the MS, just to rule them out.

    I didn't mind the MRI's, i just place a cloth over my eyes, use the earplugs they give you, and just Pray, it's a good time to go through my Prayer list, and it does relax me.
    Tranqulizer's make me Flimy, and you can't swallow while the testing is going on, the Yap tap tap part. it can change the test and they have to start over again.
    SO, if your someone who dosen't like enclosed space's, the Open MRI is a good wayto go.

    Good Luck, and remember Test's are to Rule out other Medical problems, , that's good.

    Sincerely
    kredca4
  17. Chrissy2

    Chrissy2 New Member

    To Laura and all who posted - thank you so much for your responses. They have been very helpful.

    God Bless,
    Chrissy
  18. cmcm

    cmcm New Member

    Hi Kredca4,

    Thank you for the information and I will be sure to look up that MPS. What is AS? Glad to hear you are negative on the MS testing. I was just tested again for Lupus and Lyme and they were both negative. Can you tell me what condition would make me so sensitive to the sun? I was driving the other day (only about 60 degrees), and the sun shining through the window on my face was unbearable. I felt like my face was on fire. Last June I went to my brother's house in Florida, had 50spf suncreen on, but the left side of my face swelled up. I looked like I was in a fight, my eye was half closed. Just looking for some insight into these different on going new symptoms that keep cropping up on me. Thanks again for you reply.
    Hugs
    Cheryl
  19. kredca4

    kredca4 New Member

    Sometimes there are meds that can cause a reaction like that.
    also we are super sensitive to things that we weren't before FMS/CMP.

    AS is, Ankylosing Spondylitis, it's symptoms are also similir to FMS/CMP. My brother has it and a sister, so far I'm ok, and i doubt that i have that.
    It's basicly your bones fussing togeather, and there's inflamation that cause other problems.

    you might want to check that out also. there's a simple blood test to check for AS, along with x-ray's and MRI's.


    well i gotta quit talking, lol, hands are screaming at me.

    Hope i was of some help to you.
    sharon
  20. dhcpolwnk

    dhcpolwnk New Member

    Hi, Cheryl. I'm not trying to diagnose you, but the symptoms you describe sound very familiar to me--and they pre-dated my fibro diagnosis.

    "Novocaine wearing off" is exactly how I have described what I often call "semi-numbness." I had this on the right side from just under my breast to my knee for about two months. Then it went away. Your description of "looking through a pool of water" sounds a lot like symptoms I had with optic neuritis, a condition that frequently is an early sign of MS (but not always). The sensitivity to heat is *very* common with MS. I've felt that burning like sensation on my leg when riding in a car on a sunny day. I don't know whether it's MS or not, though.

    As somebody else has mentioned, some medications can have side effects that can confuse things, and unfortunately, nobody has been able to tell me how to distinguish MS symptoms from fibro symptoms, either.

    But I urge you to be proactive with your doctor and ask for an MRI. If you have relapsing-remitting MS, you probably need to start on one of the MS drugs (Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone or Rebif) as soon as possible. These drugs are expensive and not great fun. (They're all self-injectables.) But though I was slow to accept it, I think the research is pretty convincing that they reduce the number and severity of MS attacks as well as reducing the long-term accumulation of disability.

    Good luck to you. And to all those who are reading this thread and are concerned about having MS, please be reassured that this condition doesn't necessarily mean that you will become severely disabled. Nor does becoming severely disabled necessarily mean that you can't live a fulfilling an productive life. I have lived with MS for 36 years (though not diagnosed until 25 years ago). Until Nov. 1, 2002, the only thing I took regularly for MS was amantadine, to help with fatigue. Although I use a scooter when I go out in the community (i.e., shopping, to movies or plays, to restaurants, etc.), I still walk short distances with a cane. In my house, I sometimes don't even need a cane. So please don't be discouraged, whatever the diagnosis turns out to be.

    --Laura R.M.


    =========================

    At 05:29 AM on 04/21/03, Cheryl wrote:
    Greatful for this post

    I was so greatful to see this post this morning. As I have an appointment with a Neurologist tomorrow morning because of concerns of MS. It is a scary thing to worry about. I have been diagnosised with FM, but I still have worries of MS. It is so hard to when so many symptoms are overlapping.
    I have fatigue, muscle weakness, balance issues, my eye sight changed suddenly (need reading glasses), also had an episode with my left eye, looked like I was looking through a pool of water. I have dizziness too. I have aches and pains here and there, but nothing I take meds for. The only med I am on at this time is Trazadone to help me sleep at night. But the muscle fatigue bothers me the most. I have such a hard time holding my arms up, to blow dry my hair, read a paper, wash windows etc. I find I have trouble at times with stairs. My legs feel heavy. My arms and legs go to sleep alot, that pins and needles affect. I have had numbnessin the left side of my face. It feels like novicane wearing off. The heat really bothers me too. If I try and lay under the heating blanket to sooth my legs, it actually makes them feel worse. The heat from a hot water shower or even the heat of the house or car, make me feel ill. I guess I just want answers. I just want to know what I am dealing with. Laura, maybe you can give me some thoughts on my symptoms since you have MS. I have not had an MRI yet. But I am hopeful the neuro I see tomorrow will order one.
    ARe there any clear symptoms that can be seen different between the FM and MS????

    Hugs,
    Cheryl