There are many medical conditions that mirror fibromyalgia. The harsh reality for many people with fibromyalgia is there are many people who don’t consider it a real illness. This has caused many to be misdiagnosed because it is hard to pinpoint due to its universal symptoms. Fibromyalgia patients often experience muscle pain, tenderness, trouble sleeping, brain fog, bladder and/or bowel issues, headaches and other symptoms. Here are some of the most common medical conditions that mirror fibromyalgia.
Arthritis is perhaps most like fibromyalgia because it attacks the joints causing pain and inflammation. The most common form is osteoarthritis. It causes cartilage decay which leads to bone and tissue damage. Arthritis mirrors fibromyalgia by producing similar joint pain in extremities and morning stiffness. It is sometimes hard to distinguish the difference between pain caused arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia both cause extreme amounts of fatigue. These two conditions are so similar that medical professionals are still trying to determine if fibromyalgia is simply a different form of chronic fatigue syndrome. Despite their similarities, different medical experts are used for diagnosing and treatment. Fibromyalgia is thought of as a muscle disorder while chronic fatigue syndrome is associated with viral infections. Patients with fibromyalgia often feel tenderness in up to 18 distinct locations on their body while patients with chronic fatigue syndrome do not. At least 50% of patients suffering from fibromyalgia meet the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome. This causes a lot of confusion amongst patients.
Depression – including clinical depression – has no relation to those suffering from fibromyalgia. Some professionals still believe a psychological process plays a role in pain, but depression does not make fibromyalgia pain more extreme. Clinical depression may deepen a patient’s experience of pain.
Hypothyroidism is often misdiagnosed because of its general symptoms including fatigue, mood swings, brain fog and sensitivity. Hypothyroidism is caused by an irregular immune system response that falsely attacks normal body tissue. A drop in thyroid hormone leads to fatigue. Low levels of this hormone can cause pain along with other overlapping symptoms similar to fibromyalgia.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder that causes abdominal pain, digestive discomfort, diarrhea and constipation. People with irritable bowel syndrome experience hypersensitivity in their intestines while fibromyalgia patients experience hypersensitivity in their muscles. Most patients with one or both of these conditions have onset or exacerbated symptoms after stressful events. Both conditions have disturbed sleep and fatigue. Fibromyalgia has been found to occur in up to 60% of patients with irritable bowel syndrome and up to 70% of patients with fibromyalgia have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
The immune system of lupus patient attacks normal body tissue. As a result, this causes muscle pain, much like people with fibromyalgia. Lupus patients are more likely to have a fever or a skin rash across their nose and cheeks. Frequent headaches and mood disorders are possibly the most obvious and ignored symptoms of both lupus and fibromyalgia. Medications used to treat lupus have little or no effect on the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria spread by the bite of an infected deer tick. The condition can cause joint pain, stiffness, muscle aches and headaches. Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed as the flu or other fatigue-related illnesses. There is no research to definitively prove the connection between the two conditions, but there are some infections capable of triggering fibromyalgia including Lyme disease.
Polymyalgia rheumatica and fibromyalgia are musculoskeletal conditions. Polymyalgia rheumatica causes pain and stiffness in shoulders/upper arms, neck and hips which are similar to fibromyalgia. Pain and stiffness often occur after long periods of resting or after waking up from sleep. Polymyalgia rheumatica is most common in people over the age of 50.
It is advised to know the difference between these medical conditions that mirror fibromyalgia in order to be properly diagnosed and treated. Educating yourself will also help you ask the right questions when you seek medical treatment.