Before fibromyalgia is diagnosed, many other conditions should be ruled out. There are many conditions that can mimic fibromyalgia!

Polymyalgia rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder that can result in muscle pain, stiffness, muscle weakness, flulike symptoms and sleep disruptions. Before I got my diagnosis of fibromyalgia my doctor was debating whether my condition was polymyalgia or fibromyalgia. He was very certain I had one or the either. He ran a blood test to see if I had high inflammation markers to help diagnose. I had very little inflammation markers found – which led my doctor to believe it was fibromyalgia. One can still be diagnosed with polymyalgia even if there is low inflammation found. Polymyalgia can be treated with a corticosteroids.


You can read more about polymyalgia rheumatica here.

Rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. It is also an inflammatory disease. In rheumatoid arthritis the lining of your joints is affected. It causes painful inflammation that can lead to bone erosion and joint deformity! I originally went to the doctor because my finger joints were very painful and beginning to throb. My elbows were the same as my hands. According to blood test results, I was not showing signs of any autoimmune diseases and had a negative CPP result. A CCP blood test can usually detect antibodies present in rheumatoid arthritis. To be cautious my doctor referred me to a rheumatologist who screened me for RA. The rheumatologist did ultrasounds on both hands and my elbows. There was no evidence in my joints of any inflammatory joint disease being present. At this point RA was ruled out and the rheumatologist confirmed a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.


You can read more on rheumatoid arthritis here.

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system ( brain and spinal cord). The immune system will attack the myelin sheath that surrounds your nerves. It results in inflammation and destroys nerve cell processes and myelin. MS can cause pain, fatigue, stiffness, numbness and tingling and more. Often times health care providers will order an MRI to help determine if it is MS. Multiple sclerosis can cause lesions to form on the brain and cervical spinal cord. My doctor agreed to order an MRI. We both figured nothing would show. Results showed one lesion on my brain stem – usually where MS lesions are found. I was referred to a neurologist. The neurologist repeated the MRI. no other lesions were found. The lesion found was most likely causes by my migraines.


You can read more on MS here.


Lupus can also be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia. However lupus is an autoimmune disease. Lupus involves widespread inflammation throughout the body and affects many organs. Your immune system will attack its own tissues and organs resulting in inflammation. Lupus can cause fatigue, muscle pain, fevers, headaches etc. Doctors can run a blood test to check your ANA levels in your body. A positive ANA test may mean you have lupus. 97% of people with lupus have antinuclear antibodies (ANA) in their blood. Keep in mind Just because your ANA test is positive doesn’t always mean you have lupus. My doctor ruled out lupus as my inflammatory markers were low and My ANA was negative. The rheumatologist also agreed I did not have lupus due to all blood work indicating negative results. I know people who had a negative ANA reading and still got diagnosed with Lupus.


You can read more about lupus here.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

Chronic fatigue syndrome usually accompanies fibromyalgia. However, they are both completely different conditions. CFS symptoms can mimic fibromyalgia symptoms. Once again chronic fatigue syndrome is difficult to diagnose just like fibromyalgia. Fatigue does accompany fibromyalgia, but the fatigue felt in CFS can be worse and life altering. I have not been diagnosed with chronic fatigue, but I stand firm when I tell many health care providers that I have it. I suffer from daily sore throats, swollen lymph nodes, fevers, awake unrefreshed and any physical/emotional stress causes extreme exhaustion to result. This year I will be pushing the subject of CFS with my doctor.


You can read more on CFS here.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium borrelia burgdorferi. People can contract it from ticks. Lyme has many fibromyalgia symptoms such as muscle/joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, and rashes. In Canada it can be very difficult to get tested for Lyme disease. We do have testing for it, but I often hear it is not very reliable. Many people will seek Lyme testing in the USA or pay to see a natural path who can test for it, but it is sent to Germany to actually be tested. I often hear that even if it does come back positive, health care providers still so not accept the results. Maybe where you live, you have better options to being tested for Lyme disease.


You can read more about lyme here.

Thyroid diseases

People with hypothyroidism may display symptoms of fibromyalgia such as fatigue, depression and muscle/joint pain. Hypothyroidism results when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone. A simple blood test can confirm if you have hypothyroidism. It will test your TSH levels. (thyroid stimulating hormone) My doctor quickly ordered blood work, which indicated my thyroid was working as it should.


Read more about hypothyroidism here:

Hashimoto’s disease can also be mistaken for fibromyalgia. Hashimoto’s is actually an autoimmune disorder. A health care provider can order a test to see if there are specific antibodies in your body. The antibodies created by your immune system attack thyroid cells as if they were bacteria or viruses – leading to damaged cells and cell death.


Read more about Hashimoto’s here:

I am sure there are possibly more conditions that can be mistaken for fibromyalgia. However, these are the ones that come to mind. I’ve had many of these conditions ruled out from blood work. Many are autoimmune diseases and my blood work indicates no autoimmune diseases detected. One can still be diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder with negative indicators – but in my case it has been ruled out.


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