Chronic Fatigue Syndrome vs Fibromyalgia

Both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers live with a great deal of fatigue and exhaustion, no matter how much rest they seem to get.  A fine line seems to exist between the two conditions given that they share many symptoms in common. Research has even found that an estimated 50%-70% of people with a fibromyalgia diagnosis also fit the criteria for a chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis.  Given the fact that these conditions seem to be closely connected, we’re going to take a moment to explore some similarities, some differences, and provide you with a natural healthcare option that has helped many fibromyalgia (FM) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) sufferers get back to living a normal quality of life.

Defining Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread pain, achiness, and stiffness, mental cloudiness, fatigue, and poor sleep.  It is one of the most common chronic pain disorders with approximately 5 million people across the United States affected. While there is still a lot to be understood about fibromyalgia, studies attribute the pain to an “oversensitivity” to pain.  People who suffer from fibromyalgia have changes within their central nervous system that affect normal pain-processing, creating the conditions under which chronic pain can develop. The area of the brain that processes pain signals interpret painful sensations as being more intense than they would be in people without fibromyalgia.

The majority (almost 80%) of fibromyalgia sufferers are women, but men and even children can develop the condition.  Diagnosis can be a difficult road since fibromyalgia shares its collection of symptoms with many other illnesses and diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome and lupus.  There is no specific test for fibromyalgia, so diagnoses rely on a combination of reported symptoms and a physical examination done by your physician.

Defining Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The hallmark characteristic of chronic fatigue syndrome is long-standing and disabling fatigue.  Fatigue that is not explainable by any other condition or reason that last for 6 consecutive months or longer may develop during or after an illness such as Epstein-Barr virus or Lyme disease.  Severe fatigue occurs even after waking up from a full night of sleep and can worsen during periods of high stress or with physical exertion. Other CFS symptoms include difficulty concentrating, joint pain, muscle pain, and headaches.  Much like fibromyalgia, there is still a lot to be understood about fibromyalgia despite extensive research. Diagnosis relies upon ruling out other diseases that cause a similar set of symptoms.

FM and CFS – What are the Similarities?

  • Diagnosis process – by and large, many other health conditions must be ruled out before finally arriving at a diagnosis of either fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Fatigue – both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome share the symptom of fatigue and lack of energy, even after a full night of rest.  Sleep quality can be poor and insomnia might be present.
  • Cognitive changes – poor concentration, malaise, brain-fog, poor memory, confusion, and irritability can all be present in FM or CFS.
  • Predominantly affects females – both of these health conditions tend to favor females over males.
  • Depression & anxiety – because fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are considered chronic conditions, people with these conditions might develop depression and/or anxiety as a result.  It is taxing both physically and emotionally feeling sick and run-down on a chronic basis, so it is common to feel depressed or anxious about what the future might hold.

FM and CFS – What are the Differences?

  • Nervous system abnormalities – whereas fibromyalgia sufferers show nervous system changes that might change their perception of painful stimuli, people with chronic fatigue syndrome do not display similar changes.  CFS is usually absent of nerve abnormalities.
  • Location of pain – CFS sufferers may certainly have pain, but it typically doesn’t present in predictable patterns.  Fibromyalgia sufferers often have pain at similar sites. In fact, fibromyalgia was frequently diagnosed using a set of 18 painful or tender points at specific locations.
  • Inflammation – in the earlier years when fibromyalgia was beginning to be researched, it was originally thought to be an inflammatory condition.  However, as more studies have been done, it has been shown to not be related to inflammation, but rather to origins in the nervous system.  On the contrary, chronic fatigue syndrome presents with signs of inflammation such as swollen lymph nodes, fever, or sore throat.

Healing and Health is Possible with Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care

Whether you’re living with the chronic effects of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, finding avenues to help you sleep better, reduce pain, and generally improve your daily quality of life is key.  Many FM and CFS sufferers have been finding long-lasting, natural relief with upper cervical chiropractic care. Upper cervical care, a subspecialty of general chiropractic care, focuses on the area of the spine that controls many of your body’s self-regulating functions such as pain processing, hormone production, sleep-cycle regulation, and digestion.  Your brainstem coordinates many of these life-sustaining functions and the vertebrae that protect your brainstem sit at the upper part of the neck where it forms a junction with the base of your skull.

When your atlas (C1) vertebra misaligns due to injury or wear and tear, it can interrupt your body’s ability to carry out these functions optimally.  Over time, this can lead to the development of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. Many patients under upper cervical care suffering from these two chronic, debilitating conditions have found that once that interference is removed with a specific, gentle upper cervical chiropractic adjustment, their bodies are able to heal and function better.  If you are living with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome and are looking for a natural solution, then contacting an upper cervical chiropractor in your area can be the first step towards better health.



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