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Is my Chronic Fatigue a Symptom of Fibromyalgia?

September 30, 2016 in Fibromyalgia, Energy

The Difference Between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

Chronic fatigue is both a symptom associated with many conditions and a syndrome on its own. Fibromyalgia is a condition that produces chronic fatigue as a primary symptom. It is possible that your symptoms of exhaustion, lack of energy, and an inability to sleep could stem from either of these two conditions. Because the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM) resemble those of other conditions, it is important to talk to a doctor or health professional for a proper diagnosis.

The Symptoms

There is a possibility your chronic fatigue is a product of chronic fatigue syndrome, with symptoms that include:

  • Cognitive and memory problems
  • Feeling unrefreshed after a night's sleep
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Muscle pain
  • Frequent headaches
  • Multi-joint pain without redness or swelling
  • Frequent sore throat
  • Tender lymph nodes in your neck

The symptoms related to fibromyalgia are similar but not identical and include:

  • Cognitive and memory problems (sometimes called "fibro fog")
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms, or tightness
  • Morning stiffness
  • Frequent Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Numbness or tingling of hands and feet
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights

Similarities Between CFS and FM

Clearly the large similarity between CFS and FM is persistent fatigue. The other analogous symptoms occur as a result of the chronic fatigue. Cognitive problems, headaches, muscle pain, and difficulty sleeping are all a product of exhaustion and are evident in sufferers of both conditions. Sufferers of both CFS and FM also fall into a similar demographic: primarily middle-aged women. 80-90% of individuals with fibromyalgia are female, and women are four times more likely than men to be afflicted with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Differences Between CFS and FM

The differences between these two conditions are the important factors in the process of delivering a diagnosis. Although chronic fatigue is a symptom of FM, the main symptoms revolve around chronic and widespread physical pain that originate in distinct and tender pain sites. FM sufferers also have an increased sensitivity to loud noises, bright lights, and temperature changes. Individuals can feel tingling and restlessness in their legs, especially when they lay down, and feel stiff and rigid when rising in the morning. Overall, the primary symptom associated with FM is not the fatigue but the physical pain that contributes to the fatigue.

Being Diagnosed

Of course, it is always recommended that if you display reoccurring, persistent, and debilitating symptoms that you visit a health professional for a diagnosis. In order to be diagnosed with either CFS or FM you typically must display at least four major symptoms and experience these symptoms for at least four month's time. If you are seeking more information on the nature of your pain you can download our FREE Guide to Understanding Pain today.

Sources:

  1. 2015, The Healthline Editorial Team. Healthline. All rights reserved. "CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).
  2. 2011. Thompson, Dennis & Marcellin, Lindsey, MD. Everyday Health. "The Common Threads of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."
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