Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

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BSc in Health Studies, Dip.Nut
Ask Earle

05 February 2014

Fibromyalgia and CFS

People suffering chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia often say it takes years and several referrals or second opinions to arrive at a diagnosis. This situation is both inevitable, as doctors are directed to eliminate other more common causes of fatigue or pain, and problematic as the patient continues to suffer in the meantime.

Around 70% of the symptoms associated with these two debilitating conditions are shared, so how do you tell your doctor which one they should investigate?

What symptoms they have in common

Fatigue –a sense of extreme tiredness and weakness

Joint pain – although not related to an inflammatory condition

Muscle pain – again, where inflammatory causes are absent

Poor sleep – disturbed or long periods of sleep fail to refresh

Irritable Bowel Syndrome – bloating, diarrhoea, constipation

Blowing hot and cold – excessive sweating and feeling chilly

Mental fog – difficulty remembering, concentrating, organising

Sensory Hypersensitivity – light, noise and smells can be experienced more strongly.

Shooting the messenger

Try not to be frustrated with the doctor because there is no blood test for either condition and the symptom picture is extremely complex and varies from person to person. You may be asked about your emotional wellbeing, have your thyroid checked, creatinine, urea, iron levels, liver and a haematological profile taken and have to answer a great many questions about how long, how often and how widespread before a diagnosis is made.

Some people feel the labels CFS or fibromyalgia are slapped on after everything else has been eliminated and to an extent that is true but there are more everyday causes of many of the symptoms, and it is logical to look at these first.

Symptoms that apply only to fibromyalgia

Trigger points: applying pressure to these tender areas (which are used to help diagnose fibromyalgia and include the base of the skull, inside of the knee, the hip joint, elbow and around the shoulder blades) will cause pain to shoot to another part of the body.

Itchy or burning skin, including that over the painful joints and headaches resulting from the muscle tension in the neck and upper back are indicative of fibromyalgia.

Symptoms that apply only to chronic fatigue syndrome

Knotted muscles are tender to the touch but don’t necessarily cause shooting pains. Sore throat, and swelling of the lymph glands but without infection, depression, irritability and panic attacks, extreme crashes in energy, recovery from exercise that takes many days to several weeks, palpitations where no cardiac condition is present and a definite timeframe from which all this began, such as after a virus or emotional trauma. Many people with CFS can strongly identify an event that preceded the onset of symptoms.

Natural remedies for both

As each condition is experienced differently by each person, making broad remedy recommendations should be regarded as merely a starting point, or foundation on which to add techniques, exercises or therapies according to the individual’s underlying causes and symptom pattern. With that in mind, here’s a starting place for each which takes into account the core experiences of most:

Atrogel® (Arnica), Atrosan® (Devil's Claw), Magnesium, Fish Oils and Dormeasan®.
Follow the link to read my dietary advice for fibromyalgia.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Ginsavena (Siberian Ginseng & Avena sativa), Magnesium, Digestisan or bitters (to help extract the most nutrition from your food) and Dormeasan® (sleep remedy).
Please click on the link under dietary recommendations for fibromyalgia, as most of the guidance contained will help maintain blood sugar control, regular bowel function and all round good nutrition.

A.Vogel Atrosan Devil’s Claw Tablets

30 tablets

£ 12.99

find your local stockist

Relieves muscle & joint pain, backache and lumbago. Also available in 60 tablet size.
More info

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Just how healthy are your muscles and joints?

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Here's what I recommend

As the A. Vogel Muscles and Joints advisor, I recommend Atrogel® for the effective relief from aches and pains.

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Did you know?

Women are more prone to fibromyalia than men! It is estimated that 90% of those with the condition are female.

Why fibromyalgia loves women

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