What other conditions can be confused with fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia can disguise itself as several other medial conditions

  • Low back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Widespread muscle pain

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) – There is a significant overlap between fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). As with fibromyalgia, the cause of CFS is unknown. A doctor can diagnose either disorder based only on symptoms reported by the patient. The two disorders share most of the same symptoms.


  • Depression – The link between psychological disorders and fibromyalgia is very strong.  Depressed feelings in people with fibromyalgia can be normal responses to the pain and fatigue caused by this syndrome. Such emotions, however, are temporary and related to the condition. They are not considered to be a depression disorder.
  • Low Thyroid levels (hypothyroidism) – Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.  This is another condition that shares a lot of FM’s symptomatology.  Some symptoms common to both include joint or muscle pain, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, constipation, depression and weight gain.  Many doctors rely solely on the TSH test, which measures the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone in your blood, to diagnose hyperthyroidism.  However, in order to get an accurate picture of how your thyroid is functioning, it is also important to test your Free T3 (triiodothyronine) and Free T4 (thyroxine) levels as well.
  • Polymyalgia RheumaticaPolymyalgia rheumatica is form of arthritis that causes muscle pain in multiple parts of the body and rarely occurs in anyone under 50.  It shares some of FM’s most prominent symptoms – pain, achiness, morning stiffness and fatigue.  A diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica is usually made based on symptoms, blood work and possibly an ultrasound.  Blood tests like sed rate and c-reactive protein can reveal the presence of inflammation.  An ultrasound may reveal inflammation of the soft tissue in the shoulder and hip joints, two of the most frequently affected areas.
  • Lupus – Lupus is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system of a person with lupus will attack normal cells as if they were an outside invader.  This can cause inflammation, tissue damage and pain throughout body, which feels very much like the widespread body pain of FM.  There are some symptom differences.  One of the best-known lupus symptoms is the characteristic butterfly-shaped rash that occurs on the cheeks and bridge of the nose of approximately 30% of people with lupus.  Although there is no single test that will identify lupus 100% of the time, there are lab tests that can help your doctor determine whether or not you may have lupus.

Arthritis – The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Osteoarthritis is generally caused by age-related deterioration of the cartilage in joints, which can lead to tissue and bone damage.  Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and destroys the lining of the joints.  The main symptom similarities between FM and arthritis are painful joints and morning stiffness.  Osteoarthritis can often be seen in x-rays.  A physical exam and blood tests to rule out other causes of arthritis can also help the doctor in making a diagnosis.  If the diagnosis is still uncertain, the doctor may attempt to withdraw synovial fluid from the joint.  Rheumatoid arthritis can be much more difficult to diagnose since blood work and x-rays may show normal results for many months after the onset of joint pain.

  • Myofasical Pain SyndromeMyofascial pain syndrome can be confused with fibromyalgia and may also accompany it. Unlike fibromyalgia, myofascial pain tends to occur in trigger points, as opposed to tender points, and typically there is no widespread, generalized pain.
  • Chronic Headaches – headaches, such as migraines, are common in fibromyalgia patients.

Restless Leg Syndrome – Restless legs syndrome is an unsettling and poorly understood movement disorder that is sometimes described as a sense of unease and weariness in the lower leg that is aggravated by rest and relieved by movement.

About Michelle Arbore

I am 36 years old, married for 8 years and have an almost 3 year old, Michael Richard. We also have two cats (Anibel & Mama). I own my own social media management and coaching business that allows me to work from home. I like to read, listen to music, take photos, learn new things, shop, watch TV and spend time with family and friends. I also suffer from Fibromyalgia. I have suffered from this disease for over 15 years now. I started my blog so I could have a place to vent about what I am feeling. It has turned into a place where I post information about this disease, talk about books that I am reading about Fibro, and getting to meet other people who suffer from this.
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