A question about discerning fibro from other conditions

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New Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 11/13/2009 4:35 PM (GMT -7)   
It's me again and I have another question. I've been reading more and more of the fibro 101 articles, and the more I read, the more I'm seeing myself. Maybe I'm not quite like described, but close enough to be suspicious.

Anyway, I'm wondering how you guys deal with "regular" diseases/conditions while having fibro? How do you discern, let alone the doctor discern whether it's a fibro symptom or a symptom that you're either coming down with something, or another condition that's popping up?

Does your doctor just shrug off new symptoms or does he take it seriously and search for other reasons? I guess I'm afraid that if I admit that I have fibro, and ask my doctor to check me out, that he'll just think any symptoms I come up with, will be part of the fibro, and then I might die of cancer or something because of the fibro putting all the symptoms in neat little box.

My mom died of cancer that's why I picked that condition. Apparently, my mom just shrugged off the pain in her chest and side as part of fibromyalgia. I have no idea for how long she let some of cancer's symptoms go while thinking it was fibro. The thing is, my mom was never afraid to go see her doctor, and to complain about pains either, yet he also "missed" the symptoms until mom only had 7 months to live.

You see where I'm coming from now? I'm afraid to be formally diagnosed for fear that my doctor will make a mistake, my mom's dr. did with her.

What do you do to keep your own symptoms separated... or do you?

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 1176
   Posted 11/13/2009 5:04 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Loboto-me,

This is a very good question! I know that I've not been able to keep all my symptoms separated into nice neat boxes, although there are issues I can point to and say "this is a fibro symptom" or "that is a lupus symptom".

For example, I know that the pain I experience when a nurse applies a blood pressure cuff or when my husband forgets and squeezes my shoulder is definitely from fibro (allodynia). And I know that the red "butterfly"-shaped rash across my cheeks and the bridge of my nose is a malar rash caused by lupus. I know that twinges of pain in my liver are likely caused by my autoimmune hepatitis, and when diarrhea occurs it's almost certainly due to my celiac disease (if I accidently ingested gluten recently).

But I have blurry vision, vertigo, double vision, occasional hand tremors, ataxia, headaches, fatigue.....which disease can I blame those on?? If you read up on symptoms of celiac disease, lupus, fibromyalgia, etc., you find that they have many overlapping symptoms. Celiac disease and lupus can both cause brain lesions and the neurological symptoms caused by these illnesses mimic symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Fibro can cause headaches, fatigue and so forth as well.

It's confusing and scary at times, but all you can do is make certain that you see a doctor about any unusual symptoms. Try to rest as much as possible and take care of yourself. As to your own doctor, have you shared your mom's story with him/her? You really ought to....it might even save your life or someone elses.

Good luck with everything!
Take care,
Autoimmune hepatitis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, asthma, psoriasis, Raynaud's syndrome, hypertension, osteopenia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, GERD.

Prednisone, Imuran, Plaquenil, Lyrica, Cymbalta, Levothyroxine, Atenolol, Cozaar, Mirapex, Zyrtec, Fosamax, Albuterol, Prilosec, CPAP


Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1522
   Posted 11/13/2009 6:01 PM (GMT -7)   
That is one of the reasons I've avoided a fibro diagnosis. Many of the people in my local support group have had their docs blame every new symptom on fibro and refuse to run tests or refer them to a specialist. Fortunately, no one has been hurt by these delays. One woman's doc kept dismissing her chest pain as fibro related. She finally got a second opinion - she ended up having bypass surgery.

My PA takes everything I tell him seriously and doesn't brush me off. Pneumonia, anemia, valley fever, and a few other ailments could have been brushed off as fibro but he listened to me when I told him my symptoms. My fibro pain mimics heart attack symptoms. My new cardiologist insists I get regular cardiac checkups and call him every time I have "cardiac" symptoms.

Pay attention to your body. Don't go nuts about it though. Listen to yourself and insist your doc check out anything new or different. Find great docs that listen to you and respect you. Always get a second (or third) opinion about anything that concerns you and you'll be fine.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 173
   Posted 11/13/2009 6:53 PM (GMT -7)   


My new internal medicine doc is great.  I have been seeing him about every 3-4 wks since June.  He listens to me so together we found I had gallbladders problems luckily probably not enough to require surgery at this time.  He tried treating a secondary infection I got on my lips after a sunburn.  Did not clear up so sent me on to Derm.  She fixed it.  He has run many other tests on me.  Found some vitamin/mineral problems. Recently put me on HBP meds because he has been concerned with my blood pressure numbers for awhile. Listened to me when I told him of some  recent stomach pains and urination problems.  He sent me for a urine test.  That evening nurse called and said i had a Urinary tract infection and they called in Cipro to drugstore for me already.  Referred me to an GYN for some question I mean the list goes on and on. Is sending me to Back pain specialist for some floroscopic steroid injections.  Advised me to see a psychiatrist when he noticed my dystmic disorder actually was turning into a major depressive disorder with anxiety increasing.  Mostly under control now.

Great doc now looking back all he has done for me.  If anyone lives in the Wilmington NC area just ask and I will give you his name. 

So what I am trying to say is if you find a good general practice or internal medicine doctor to care for you they should be treating you as a whole person and not just someone with fibromyalgia or any other one condition. So please do not be nervous about getting the dx if it is correct so you can receive the best treatment for you.

Good luck to you


Humour is always the Best Medicine!
Fibromyalgia, DDD, 2 herniated Lumbar discs, Migraine, Dysthmic Disorder, Anxiey, Panic Attacks, OsteoArthritis Knee, Carpal Tunnel both hands, Currently Double Depression

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 4796
   Posted 11/13/2009 8:46 PM (GMT -7)   
Carmen, I believe we all know our own body better than anyone else. We are able to
recognize new symptoms as they show up, either because we are feeling differant or notice
some change going on. New symptoms need to be reported to your doctor.

As I mentioned before, there are overlapping symptoms with many disorders. I seem to be
able to distiguish my fibro from my MCTD (lupus, scleroderma, and RA). I can tell my flares
apart, sometime I have more than one flare going on. My MCTD is monitored through
bloodwork every 6-8 weeks and that gives me peace of mind.

Having a good doctor is important but being proactive in your healthcare is just as important.
Researching your diagnosis and medications give you the knowledge to ask questions of
your doctor to make sure he is giving you the treatment you deserve.

Getting a dx takes time, what is important is getting the right diagnosis and the correct

Wishing you good luck and great healthcare


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

Post Edited (crazykitty) : 11/13/2009 9:21:53 PM (GMT-7)

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 478
   Posted 11/14/2009 6:03 AM (GMT -7)   
I also have thought about this question many times. Having now been diagnosed with Fibro for over 2 years I think I "know" my body and the pain and aches that go with it. WE get a sense of the way Fibro moves around our bodies and the way it affects us individually.

That being said it leads me to another point I often think about. It appears that most of us have many other diseases or illnesses that can "bring on" Fibro symptoms. I use the perfect example of back issues and Lymes disease. What I wonder is if these people have Fibro or other related pain issues stemming from the other issues. Personally nothing has been discovered in my body to be going on but Fibro. I have been a human guinea pig like many of us on this tedious search. I suppose that many disorders produce Fibro but just wonder about this.

Gentle warm hugs, Patsie

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2009
Total Posts : 241
   Posted 11/14/2009 8:49 AM (GMT -7)   
The doctor I am seeing is very good about this - I think I am quicker to attribute things to fibro than he is. Pains in chest - did an ekg, pain in hands - he did an xray, etc. Of course the tests always come back normal - i almost hate that word!

Just make sure to bring up to your doctor any pain out of the ordinary that hangs around longer than a couple days. This can happen to people without fibro too - my mom's doctor kept telling her for months that her shoulder pain was her rotator cuff and it turned out to be lung cancer!
Fibro dx 2004, RLS, raynauds

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 17528
   Posted 11/14/2009 9:16 AM (GMT -7)   

I use a board certified Internist that is a diplomate.  An Internist has more education than a general practioner.  By being a diplomate, they have to continue taking tests on new things in medicine and that makes me feel good because I know he is on top of everything.

That being said, when you see your doctor, many tests should be run to rule out other illnesses that have many of the same symptoms.  If you are diagnosed with fibro, at least you they won't say it's all in your head.  BUT you do need to use your head when you have fibro.  If you have something that reoccurs that hasn't been happening before, you need to go to your doctor and be checked out.  THAT'S why it's especially important to have a really good doctor.

Case in point....I started having some chest pain and heart palpatations a few years ago.  I went to see my doctor and even though these can be fibro symptoms, they can also be heart problem type symptoms.  My doctor didn't take chances and he gave me an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of my heart, and had me wear a monitor.  He also ran tests on my carotid arteries.  Everything was great so what I was feeling was indeed fibro and costochondritis.

Never assume something is fibro.  Always check with your doctor if you have something that is disturbing you that you haven't had in the past.  Much of what we feel is fibro but you want to make sure.  Plus, that will help with anxiety issues, too.


Forum Moderator/ Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia, Crohn's Disease, Ostomy, Diabetes, Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease, Osteoporosis
God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.    2 Timothy 1:7

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