Fibromyalgia and MS Experiences

People living with both fibromyalgia and MS share their experiences.

A number of years ago, I received a question from a reader who asked if it was possible to have multiple sclerosis (MS) and fibromyalgia at the same time and, more interestingly, if people with MS were more likely to have fibromyalgia than people who did not have MS. In response to that question, I did some research and wrote the following article: Q. Can people have fibromyalgia and MS at the same time?

 

Fibromyalgia and MS share many symptoms, such as depression and fatigue. They are also most commonly diagnosed in women that are between 20 and 50 years of age.

These similarities, plus challenges in diagnosing both diseases, can make it hard to figure out if someone has MS or algia. It is especially difficult to determine if someone has both, as once they have a diagnosis of one condition, most docs (and patients themselves) just figure that whatever symptoms they are having are due to that condition.

If you have either MS or fibromyalgia and are having symptoms that are unusual for you, don't hesitate to ask your doctor about it or seek a second opinion. It never hurts to ask more questions in our pursuit to feel better.

I asked my readers if there were any people out there who were living with both MS and fibromyalgia. Here are some of the comments that I have received:

  • I have both MS and fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed with MS in 1991, and about 6-8 years later, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It is hard to know which disease is flaring up, when some of the signs for both diseases are the same.
  • I also have secondary progressive MS (SPMS) and fibromyalgia, and it’s hard to tell which is flaring. I honestly believe it is a combo of both. Weather changes are always to blame - stiffness, spasms, pain and rigidity are common when it gets hot outside. I must stay inside and hibernate until the cooler temps come.
  • I was diagnosed with MS in 2007 and at the same time was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have found that I can tell the difference in the pain (which is caused by MS and which pain is caused by fibromyalgia). My nurse practitioner started me on Lyrica right away. I have tried other drugs, but for me found that the Lyrica really relieves the fibromyalgia pain. Typically, when the barometer changes I can feel the difference in muscles and bones. I have also found my muscle cramps are most commonly a symptom of my MS, and I had to start taking flexirill at night to avoid rigidity in the morning. Having both does suck, but I have found that for both that moving is the best medicine. Keeping the muscles warm, either from exercising or from warm packs (usually while the fan is blowing on me), usually helps.
  • I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1989 and diagnosed with MS in 2005. Yes, the symptoms can be similar, but are also quite different. The MS symptoms have been much worse than the fibromyalgia symptoms. The fatigue is far worse with the MS. I also have bouts of vertigo, imbalance issues, left side weakness and extreme heat sensitivity. The fibromyalgia symptoms have been mostly aches, pains and tenderness. It is quite interesting to have both.
  • I was dx with fibromyalgia in 1997, by the fact that there are certain points on my body that get extremely tender, especially the shoulders (by the neck) and my hips. There are specific trigger points. I was diagnosed with MS in 2004, but probably had it much longer.
  • I was diagnosed with MS in 2007. A couple months later, I went for a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic, and the MS diagnosis was confirmed, and I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia. When I asked my neurologist once after that which disease was causing what, his opinion was that it didn’t really matter; we’d just deal with symptomatic issues as they came up.
  • I was diagnosed with fibro many years ago. MS was considered but dismissed as I had a clean MRI at time. I had significant flares, increasing disability, and finally after about 13 years I was on such a downhill slide and looking for a new doctor to help me with the pain that I had four doctors (all non neurologists) all tell me in a 2-week period that I was describing MS symptoms, and not fibromyalgia. I finally ended at a epilepsy specialist who wouldn’t ” officially” diagnose it but “wink wink” told me that I had MS upon first exam. Next day I went to MS specialist who diagnosed me on the spot. My neuro and rheumatologist both still agree I have BOTH. I am a 51-year-old male. I must be in a fraction of a fraction, but yes, you can have both, and no, I can’t tell which is which much of the time.

Bottom Line: Clearly, it is possible to have both MS and fibromyalgia at the same time, but there seems to be no evidence that one increases the risk of having the other.

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