Fibro vs. pain of getting old?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 104
   Posted 11/10/2009 8:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone! I have posted a couple of times on the Chronic pain forum, and thought I would post here with a question. Probably a dumb one, but here goes anyway! LOL

How do you differentiate Fibro pain from the pains of getting older, or the pains of arthritis? I hurt all over, I have had migraines for years, I have neck pain in the back where my hair meets my neck, both shoulders hurt, my chest hurts alot and has sent me to the hospital, upper/lower back pain is always there, (to be blunt) my butt fat hurts. I also have DJD in both knees. I have painful periods, and pelvic pain in general. I have been seeing a Neuro for my migraines (no help there), a Gyno surgeon for my period problems (getting injections for that), and my PCP for all the other aches and pains. I am in the process of going to my PCP to try to find a diagnosis and everything I have read has pointed to Fibro.

My general question is, how can you tell when the pain is something other than just getting older?
No diagnosis yet!

Pain issues: Pain in neck and upper/lower back, chest/ribcage pain, Degenerative joint disease in both knees, migraine headaches, very painful menstrual cramping, pelvic pain.

Still in the process of being diagnosed! Wish me luck!

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 11/10/2009 9:08 PM (GMT -6)   
Well, I'm already old and have many of the symptoms you have plus a few different ones. I was diagnosed about ten years ago. In the last two years I was in a wonderful remission and felt like I did 15-20 years ago. However, the fibro came back big time about 3 months ago and now I feel ten years older than my actual age. So, I would postulate that it's not age causing my current problems, but the return of the fibro symptoms. The past two years proved to me that you can be a "senior baby boomer" and be very active a relatively pain free. Hope I can get back there again. I hope you can get a definitive diagnosis soon.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 9090
   Posted 11/10/2009 11:30 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi and welcome to the Fibro Family!

I've seen you over on the CP forum...they're a wonderful bunch too. And your questions is NOT dumb, silly or out of bounds at all. If it is we're all guilty I've thought the very same thing and I know many others have too. Getting older does come with aches and pains, but being around my parents as they aged and their friends, I think we would be in a lot less pain if it were only aging.

Age related pains are most often from things like arthritis and joint problems and the actual pain comes from a specific location. Fibro pain is all over pain! It's muscle pain even though at times it FEELS like it's in a joint. That's because the ligaments hurt since they are a type of muscle and they are located in the joints...that equals pain that feels like joint pain. Plus with fibromyalgia there are specific points called tender points that are common to all of us. Some doctors are very stern about how you need to react to pressure on those points and others consider a more generalized approach to diagnose. But tender points are part of the medical definition of fibro.

You are very aware already that we are not here to give medical advice but so many of your symptoms are all ones that people with fibro have. BUT, they can be from something else also. So, please do tell your doc that you have been researching and reading about fibro and you do feel that it might just explain why you have all of this pain that no one else can explain. That is a classic scenario of someone about to be diagnosed with And if your doctor puts you off on the fibro idea, doesn't "believe" in it or just ignores you then give him a firm hand shake and say, "it's been nice knowing you. I'll let you know who to forward my records to." Sad to say there are some doctors still living in the dark ages.

One thing you have likely seen me recommend to others is to keep a pain journal. It's a record of how bad your pain is during the day, what you may have tried to alleviate the pain, did it help, other activities, etc. In the Fibro 101 post at the top of the main page is a link to a free journal page you can download and print. Fill out one every day...I put mine together by week and then toss them in a folder or binder. Every time you see any doctor take your journal along with you and ask them to look it over while you are sitting there. It can be diagnostic for them but maybe more important they can see how any treatments are working and adjust them...things like medications or supplements.

OK, I've babbled long enough. We have to be our own advocates on this. But now you have an entire family not just behind you but standing right beside you when you see your doc next. Just wait and see...when you are there take a second and think about us. You'll know we are there in spirit to help you through these times. That's what we're all about...

You GO Girl!
The three grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for. — Alexander Chalmers

(\o/)Co-Moderator Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Forums
Fibromyalgia, PTSD, UC, Diabetic on insulin, collapsed disk, arthritis scattered around and a few other delights.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 104
   Posted 11/10/2009 11:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you Chutzie! Your comment answered my question very well! I am trying really hard to be well prepared for my PCP appt next Friday. I did print out several pages of the pain diary and have been recording my pain since this past Sunday. I will have almost 2 weeks of documentation by the time my appt rolls around.

I call myself a sponge all the time. I am a sponge for knowledge! Anytime I want to know about something, I will research it to no end! I have been printing out articles, medical journals and such. I also have a friend who was diagnosed with Fibro several years ago who has agreed to go to my appt with me. One way or another, I am going to find out what is wrong with me! I am fully prepared to "fire" my doctor if she isn't willing to help me. This is a journey that I have to map out for myself and somehow, I will make it...
No diagnosis yet!

Pain issues: Pain in neck and upper/lower back, chest/ribcage pain, Degenerative joint disease in both knees, migraine headaches, very painful menstrual cramping, pelvic pain.

Still in the process of being diagnosed! Wish me luck!

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 439
   Posted 11/11/2009 12:33 AM (GMT -6)   
I agree that the Fibro makes you feel older than you really are. I'm 26 and some days I have to rest after climbing a single set of stairs, whereas another day I would be able to climb 7 sets of stairs 7 times before resting. My pain shouldn't be due to getting older. Also, for me, the fibro pain is intermittent. Some days I feel almost normal, some I can't hardly get out of bed. Right now I am sitting on the couch watching my sister workout by dancing all over the living room ... and wondering if I'll ever be able to do that.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 4796
   Posted 11/11/2009 9:36 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Jadensmommy, I just wanted to wish you good luck when you go to the doctor. It is
frustratrating waiting for a diagnosis.

Because of my age, 57, I do have things that can be attributed to aging such as osteoporosis,
degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. These disorders are dx with bone density scans,
MRI and x-rays. Fibro is tricky to diagnose because it does have some symptoms of these
disorders along with connective tissue diseases. Connective tissue diseases will be ruled out
through certain bloodwork.

It is great that you are keeping a pain journal. Bring a list of all your symptoms and questions
with you. I also ask for copies of all lab work and keep them in a binder.

Good luck to you and keep us posted. We care!


MCTD, Fibromyalgia, Raynauds, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Degenerative 
 Disc Disease, Hypertension, Migraines and Pseudothrombocytopenia MEDS: Methotrexate, Savella,Flexeril,Diltiazem, Boniva, Vitamins 

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