Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients suffer from pain as well as Fibromyalgia patients. Sometimes it can be hard for patients with both to know whether their pain is coming from the Fibromyalgia or the ME/CFS. For me, I can usually tell the difference because I had ME/CFS first. I know that my headaches are coming from ME/CFS, as well as the back pain. The majority of the rest of my pain comes from the Fibromyalgia.
In most cases, if someone has both ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia, you can usually tell which illness takes precedence over the other by just asking one question: Which is worse for you? Fatigue or pain? If they answer fatigue, then their ME/CFS is worse. If they answer pain, then their Fibromyalgia is worse. In my case, the ME/CFS is definitely the worst and I was diagnosed with that illness first. I wasn’t diagnosed with Fibromyalgia until 2003 I believe.
For me, I experience most of my Fibromyalgia pain in the lower half of my body. My hips and legs will hurt tremendously and they hurt most of the time. Some days the pain is mild, other days the pain is so bad in my legs I can barely walk without tears coming to my eyes. I can tell the difference between Fibro pain and ME/CFS pain because each illness has it’s own pain intensity.
For example, when I first became ill with CFS, I had terrible back pain that would not go away after I had a back injury at work. But the pain in my back was like a constant exhausting pain – a dull but very deep and severe pain that was always there. It was more of an exhausting type of pain. I would still describe ME/CFS pain as an “exhausting” type of pain – pain that causes weakness. The Fibromyalgia pain is more intense, more sharp, more nagging but it doesn’t make my body feel as weak. The headaches are constant – sometimes they are worse than others but they are always there and not going away. I developed these around the time I was diagnosed with ME/CFS.
I have also found that the really deep, dull pain that comes from ME/CFS doesn’t respond well to painkillers. The Fibromyalgia pain will respond but the pain doesn’t completely go away.
How would you describe your CFS and/or Fibromyalgia pain? Which is worse for you? Can you tell the difference? Let me know!