Chronic Fatigue Syndrome vs Fibromyalgia: Understanding the Connection
An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from the pain and exhaustion of fibromyalgia. Whereas only 1.7 million struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome. But the reality is that these two diseases are so similar, with many overlapping characteristics. So can these numbers not be combined to represent a large portion of Americans who suffer from some form of chronic pain and fatigue? Perhaps so.
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are so intertwined they are often misdiagnosed as each other. The term fibromyalgia fatigue has even been coined as an expression of the same disorder that causes CFS.
What’s important to note is that there is a difference between these two diseases. All too often, they are mistaken for each other. Learn more about chronic fatigue vs. fibromyalgia in this blog…
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Vs. Fibromyalgia: The Connection and the Difference
There is a very thin line separating CFS and fibromyalgia. Research has shown that 50-70% of people with fibromyalgia also meet the criteria for CFS. Here is how the two diseases closely mimic each other:
Chronic Fatigue Vs. Fibromyalgia: The Similarities
One of the most common similarities between the two conditions is that they affect middle-aged people. Both diseases also tend to target women, more often than male counterparts.
Fibromyalgia is known to cause chronic pain and fatigue. It is characterized by widespread tenderness throughout the body and muscles. This causes difficulties with sleeping, concentrating, memory loss, dizziness, numbness, digestion and more.
The same goes for CFS. Some overlapping symptoms include chronic fatigue, memory loss, lack of concentration, unexplained muscle or joint pain, disrupted sleep patterns and more.
The exact cause of both diseases is largely unknown. Fibromyalgia is thought to originate from the central nervous system where it struggles to process pain. While the pain associated with this disease seems to come from a specific area in the body, it actually originates from the brain and an over-sensitized central nervous system.
The cause of CFS is similar in nature. People with this disease tend to be hypersensitive to any form of physical exertion, while the exact cause is still unknown. Some people may be born with a predisposition to CFS, while other factors such as viral infection, suppressed immunity and hormonal imbalances can trigger CFS.
Fibromyalgia Vs. Chronic Fatigue: The Differences
As you can see, chronic pain and fatigue are both common symptoms of both diseases. The difference is that chronic fatigue appears to take a ”back seat” with fibromyalgia, while chronic pain takes over. In CFS, fatigue is at the forefront of the disease, while chronic pain is a secondary symptom. This is the primary difference: how much pain vs. fatigue does a person suffer? Other notable differences include:
1. Prompting of the Condition
Those with fibromyalgia usually report that the start of their symptoms followed some form of trauma such as a physical injury or emotional trauma. Whereas with CFS, the condition is usually prompted by a viral infection, commonly influenza or mononucleosis.
2. Common Areas of Pain
People with fibromyalgia usually feel chronic pain in at least 11-18 different locations across the body. Those with CFS typically do not suffer as much pain in as many sites.
3. Chronic Inflammation
People suffering from CFS often exhibit symptoms such as fever, swollen glands and other signs of inflammation in the body. Those with fibromyalgia don’t tend to show any signs of chronic inflammation.
4. Sleep Disturbances
REM sleep is most commonly disrupted in both CFS and fibromyalgia patients. However, research has shown that other significant sleep disturbances between each disease make for notable differences between the two.
Find Relief From Chronic Pain
Whether it’s chronic fatigue syndrome vs. fibromyalgia, our team at Charschan Chiropractic is here to offer you relief from chronic pain.
We offer chiropractic adjustments, massage, stretching, taping, myofascial release and more to help bring you relief. We have offices in both Brunswick and Scotch Plains, NJ – request your appointment with us today!