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Nov 202014


CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Fibromyalgia always seem to stand together under the same umbrella. There was a point during my recover when I thought that my CFS might have moved into Fibromyalgia, but after having investigated, I knew this probably wasn’t the case.


Image taken from here

So, what is the major difference between CFS and Fibromyalgia?

In a nutshell (a very small, tight nutshell!), the main symptom of CFS is overwhelming fatigue, with some muscle pain, and the main symptom of Fibromyalgia is overwhelming muscle pain, with some fatigue.

Now, it’s definitely not as cut and dry as this (as you all probably know!), but this is key to your diagnosis. Which symptom is worse for you- the tiredness or the muscle pains? When I say ‘some fatigue’ or ‘some muscle pain’, there is a huge spectrum within that. I used to get terrible muscle pains in the morning when I woke up, but as I was recovering these would ease off until later on in the evening. If you have Fibromyalgia, you might find that, while you’re able to feel more-or-less awake or function to some extent, the muscle pains you experience interfere with your everyday life and activities.

So, what are the cross-over symptoms?

Some symptoms of both illnesses include:

  • Brain fog (impaired cognitive function, poor memory- this often tides over into lack of physical coordination, clumsiness, etc.)
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling unrefreshed when you wake up after sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Joint paint/tenderness
  • Dizziness

Are there any differences in symptoms?

Many medical professionals cite sore throats, swollen glands and a low-grade fever as only being linked to CFS/ME rather than Fibromyalgia, but of course, each individual case must be taken uniquely on its own terms. I’m sure many people with Fibromyalgia have suffered with these symptoms as well!


Some experts have argued that there are significant differences in the way in which each illness is actually triggered. CFS/ME is said to be brought about after a flu-like virus or illness, giving people with CFS a significantly suppressed immune system, where as Fibromyalgia is said to be caused be some kind of physical or emotional trauma. For me, I think it was combination of lots of things, and again, it might not be as cut and dry as this.

So, what can we take from all of this?

There are some sufferers who really stick to their ‘label’ and read up everything they can about it. Some people might prefer to investigate all the options around related illnesses and go from there. Wherever you are, even though the names and symptoms of the illnesses might help in some way, only you can really know how you are feeling and the severity of your symptoms. Even though I knew I was diagnosed with ME, I tried not to pull myself into this name- not only because I wanted to take the opportunity the learn about and listen to my body, but also because I didn’t want to be the ill person boxed in by this term. I didn’t want to define myself by my illness, because I knew, as soon as I didn’t that I’d forget about the real me and I’d let it take over my life. Honestly, there were times when it became unbearable, and I very nearly did let it take over, but I knew I was worth more than that. As are you.

Only you can know what is best for you. If you want to follow everything written about your illness, then go for it. If you want to find something alternative and holistic, go for it. You need to have the courage to follow whatever works for you and to act on the messages your body and spirit are giving you. They are unique to you and you can’t compare your healing with anyone else’s.

I’d love to hear from you below- have you experienced any crossovers with symptoms? Do you have both CFS and Fibromyalgia Do you find definitions and symptom lists helpful, or not so much?! Let me know in the comments below!

Love and faith in your own healing,

Katie     xxx


  10 Responses to “What is the Difference Between CFS and Fibromyalgia?”

  1. Hi,

    I am currently being treated for systemic lupus although the diagnosis is not 100% yet…I seem to be an atypical case and on the milder end of the spectrum. A good thing in many, many ways but frustrating because it’s taken years to even get to this point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m PLEASED I don’t have severe lupus, it’s just hard at times not really knowing if this is actually what is going on. Something I’m sure people with FM and CFS can relate to – other people not taking your illness seriously, thinking your exaggerating or being a hypochondriac and going through test after test, appointment after appointment and taking forever to get any answers or help. Anyway, your blog is so uplifting and I really appreciate the work you’ve put into it.

    My major symptoms are pain and fatigue and I find this is a cross-over with both CFS and FM. The fatigue is debilitating to the extent that I have been largely unable to function for the past 6 months, and the pain is something that I find easier to manage through massage and stretching, but it’s still a constant problem. I like to investigate treatments and management strategies for illnesses with similar symptoms and also other autoimmune diseases. I don’t fully have a label, even though it’s suspected, so I want to be broad in how I figure out how to move ahead with this.

    Thank you for this article!


    • Thanks you so, so much for sharing with us. Having a combination of the two must be so incredibly frustrating. Maybe at the stage you’re at in your illness, a few more labels or things to look out for could be of some help. I really, really hope you reach a clear diagnosis soon and that you continue to follow your own intuitive healing path.

      Thank you for following the blog!
      Katie xx

  2. I’ve had ME/CFS for 7 1/2 years and fibromyalgia for 2. In the very beginning I used to complain about having a headache allll the time, no-one noticed how tired I was on top, so it took many years until I was diagnosed with ME. When the fibromyalgia kicked in it was just this awful pain, everywhere, all the time. It was definitely new. On reflection it was my body’s way of telling me I was pushing myself too far in a very intensive full time new job. Should have listened, oh well.
    To be honest I’ve read tens of headache books, CFS/ME books and fibromyalgia books by this point. I’ve seen countless doctors and alternative medicine type people. Currently I’m on a bit of a happiness/positive psychology/spirit/’woo woo’ kick and whilst my physical health is no better, my mental health definitely appreciates this sort of thing more.
    I’m rambling. Basically I say I have CFS/ME and fibromyalgia (and chronic migraines) to people, and I ‘use’ that when necessary, but for me at this point I don’t really care so much, it’s just my body being generally unhappy.

    • Hey my lovely Elizabeth! Thanks for your comment- sorry to hear it took you so long to get diagnosed. There’s nothing wrong with trying a bit of the old spiritual/’woo woo’ stuff, especially if the traditional route hasn’t done a lot for you, which I can understand completely!

      Thank you for following the blog- hope you’re having as good a day as possible.

      Katie xx

  3. My original dx was fibromyalgia, following a traumatic car wreck on Christmas Eve … later doc’s called it cfs///fibro … in the mid-90s, I was also infected with Lyme’s Disease, which is now chronic – now THAT I can tell because I get a host of neurological symptoms!

  4. Hi I understand this and appreciate it. Thanks for writing it.They say I’ve got ME/CFS. I’m not sure where I fit or if I even fit here. ME is the brain and spinal cord. CFS is your fatigued and we don’t know why I think what I have is neurological but I don’t get the muscle pain, at least not often only when in bed so long. The exhaustion and fatigue is there. Sometimes like a ragdoll propped up with pillows to be fed. not always though. and mental activity does affect me. brain doesn’t work right. Don’t think right at all. I get really bad noise sensitivity where I can’t bare to listen to the hum of the fridge, a ticking clock the xbox fan. Sometimes I can though. Also dont like that moving sensation too much.Sometimes I can listen to a song or two. Sometimes cant bare to watch the moving images off the tv. I get so dizzy sometimes walking like I’m on a tightrope. My head sort of rocks. My left side gets affected more, head gets heavier on that side and hurts more.left side of my face/gums feels somewhat numb, my eye droops, my mouth doesnt smile right and I drag my left leg abit when I walk sometimes. Not all the time but often. I sometimes get the heart palpitations. I get the really bad sleep since my last relapses knocked me off track.

    But then I dont get sore throats, I don’t recall getting flu before I got sick, I dont get swollen lympth nodes, I dont get the night sweats that many people do. Yeah I’m warmer than I used to be, don’t need pjs for bed have a thin duvet, take a cool pad to cool me down but I’m not dripping with sweat. And the pain I rarely get it, except my head. I dont get the IBS. Just feels like something isnt adding up. Something isn’t right.

    I wonder what others or you might think. Do I fit here? When I read about sophia miraz I think I’m not that bad and people out there are.

    I’m trying to learn about nutrition and vitamins ect. Was wondering about trying bio resonance but I’m abit unsure about it.

    Thank you for writing what you write. Sorry I’m not very good with words xxx

    • Jess, you’re doing great- don’t worry about it. As I mention in the article, I think there is a lot of crossover between the terms, which can be confusing. I was diagnosed with M.E, but this seems to have crossed over with CFS. Your symptoms are very unique to you as well and sometimes comparing symptoms can make us more confused.

      Have you been diagnosed by a doctor? Sending you lots of love Jess- thank you for being here- xxx

      • Thank you. No it was an occupational therapist who said I fit the criteria for it. It didnt take alot of talking for her to tell me. Shes not very good though. I can feel that she thinks its my own fault and she told me im not trying when i really am.They’re going by the nice guidelines and they’re not meant to be very good. Doctors barely believe in it. It’s hard to know what to believe cos they don’t even know themselves. In the end its just a guessing game.

        So many people have been misdiagnosed before. Maybe I’m just jumping back and forth from acceptance to denial or something. This illness feels like a life sentence though. It is confusing you’re right.

        I think its nice just to know someone who understands you.very few do. It looks like you’ve come a very long way its nice how you do what you do to help others

        • Hi Jess- I was just asking, as there are lots of crossover symptoms with other illness (click here for an article on this and dealing with doctors).

          I hope your Occupational Therapist can help you my love- it’s very difficult for others to know exactly what it is we’re going through. Often, they’re just trying to help.

          Lots of love, xxx

  5. I have been diagnosed with both. I see the crossovers as well. Nexavir video with Dr Enlander is the only pure medication that truly helps this illness. I’ve used it for 25 years. Approved as Kutapressin in 1939 by the FDA. Dr zen landers video is on YouTube.

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