Recently I have been asked several times about the differences between MS and Fibromyalgia, I stress again that I am not a Doctor, I have no medical training and all I can ever give is my opinion as a patient. With that in mind I will try to explain what I know.
On the surface MS and Fibro do seem very similar and I frequently don’t know which is the catalyst for any or all my symptoms especially when it is pain. Both of these illnesses have common ground, fatigue, wide spread pain, aching and stiffness, concentration problems, inability to multitask, long and short term memory problems. Tingling, burning, pricking, and numbness of skin, muscle spasms, weakness of limbs, nerve pain and muscle twitches.
Unique to Fibro and one of the main test for diagnosis is the ‘Tender Points’, there are 18 of them and they react to pressure, just touching them causes anything from discomfort to agony. If you react to 11 or more of these points along with the case history, unfortunately there is no other test that can be done to diagnose Fibro, it is purely the opinion of the doctor as to if it is Fibor or not and many Doctors still say the illness does not exist. There is nothing that shows on MRI or CAT scans nor in blood tests. Fibro does seem to also cause joint problems as is found in arthritis.
I always put joint pain at the door of Fibro and if I have pain that I can like back to the pressure point this also falls to Fibro.
MS also has many unique issues and I have been told that the ones that overlap for me, are MS not Fibro, I will explain when I can, why as we go. Unlike Fibro, MS does damage visible to MRI and other tests, an MRI was the first sign that MS was there. My MRI showed up a very large number of lesions and clear damage that they have done to my brain. The lesions on my frontal lobe and temporal lobe, cause me as they would with anyone else, a range of problems. Personality changes, mood control, motor function, language, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, judgement, difficulty in speaking and loss of fine movements and strength of the arms, hands and fingers. It’s quite a list but I can’t blame Fibro and the MRI shows extensive damage that is still continuing. The lesions on my upper spine and on my vagal nerve cause problems so far with my swallowing problems,heart regulation, bladder and bowel, fibro may well have an input on my bowel problems but not the rest.
The Cerebellum damage has caused problems with walking, my balance, coordination, uncoordinated movement,loss of muscle tone , none are found in Fibro. So those are the symptoms.
There are cross over symptoms and there are cross over medications, but until they can stop my autoimmune system from destroying me I live with it and around it. Both conditions play their part but when they scan your brain and find a mess you kind of have to accept that is how it is. I did also had the lumber puncture test which contained antibodies which means that my body is fighting a disease in my central nervous system, confirming the progressive element.
I have done my best here to explain the two illnesses and their effects, along with my diagnosis of both. If you have any questions I will do my best to answer but I’m no Doctor.