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Fibromyalgia's symptoms of deep muscle pain, ongoing fatigue, sleep problems, and depression sometimes mimic other pain-related conditions. It is common for people to go from doctor to doctor seeking answers for their muscle pain and fatigue. Because there are no medical tests to diagnose fibromyalgia, doctors use lab tests and scans to rule out more serious problems. For example, fibromyalgia can mimic chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) with its constant fatigue and inability to concentrate. Also, fibromyalgia may mimic arthritis or depression because of the similar symptoms.
There are other conditions that can mimic fibromyalgia. Conditions include: hypothyroidism or underacting thyroid, autoimmune disorders - especially polymyalgia rheumatica, osteoarthritis, and chronic back pain.
Fibromyalgia can wear as many disguises as a highly sophisticated bank robber. It can be confused with several other medical conditions, including low thyroid levels (hypothyroidism) and polymyalgia rheumatica, but there are lab tests to distinguish between these different diseases that your doctor can order. Similarly, symptoms can be similar to rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, but unlike fibromyalgia these are inflammatory diseases so your doctor can tell the difference by examining your joints and doing other tests.
As many conditions trigger fibromyalgia, the two can often be confused. A classic example is hypothyroidism. Many other autoimmune diseases such as lupus can also have similar symptoms. These conditions often coexist as well.
To distinguish them, ask one simple question - Can you get a good night's sleep?. If the answer is no and you have severe insomnia, there is likely a component of fibromyalgia as well. On the other hand if you can sleep well without help, you likely do not have fibromyalgia.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.