Goldenberg lists other similarities between fibromyalgia and
chronic fatigue syndrome. 8
There is no known cause
There are no highly effective treatments
There are chronic symptoms which include fatigue, myalgias,
neurocognitive dysfunction, mood disturbances and sleep
The population most affected is women aged between 20 and 50.
How Disabling is Fibromyalgia (FMS):
100 out of 394 patients (that is 25.3%) with FMS (all female)
and 12 out of 44 males (27%) were shown in a recent survey to be
sufficiently badly affected by the condition as to be unable to
work - they were effectively disabled. 8a
Almost all the others surveyed claimed that their FMS affected
their job performance very badly.
In Canada a single insurance company, London Life, reported in
1989 that it was issuing monthly long-term disability payments to
over 630 people with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia - involving a
total of around a million dollars a month.
Change the Name, Change the Attitude
An example of why the naming of a condition matters can be seen
from the word ‘fibrositis’ the previously used name for
fibromyalgia. When a word ends in ‘itis’ in medicine it
signifies that there is an inflammatory process involved. No
evidence has ever been produced that the muscular aches and pains
of fibrositis and/or fibromyalgia have much to do with
Anti-inflammatory drugs therefore do not influence the condition
and because of this many doctors assumed that the condition was
a fiction - and that the symptoms complained of were unimportant
or were imaginary.
By changing its name to ‘fibromyalgia syndrome’ the
‘inflammation’ element was removed and with this came the
possibility for research and a wider understanding of the
The change in name has been accompanied by a rash of research
and review articles in the medical journals - with a few in 1985
but around 100 in 1990.
CFS(ME) and FMS: Are They the Same? 9
There is disagreement amongst experts as to whether or not
‘fibromyalgia syndrome’ and ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ are the
Both CFS(ME) and FMS often seem to begin after an infection or a
severe trauma (physical or emotional) , and as indicated above
the symptoms are very similar. The only obvious difference seems
to be that for some people the fatigue element is the most
dominant while for others the muscular pain symptoms are
greatest (and for an unfortunate few both are markedly present).
In other words for many people the diagnosis CFS(ME) and FMS
seem to be interchangeable terms, although there are certain
symptoms (fever, swollen glands for example) which are found in a
higher percentage of CFS(ME) patients than those with FMS, which
makes the comparison less precise.
Some doctors insist that the psychological aspects of these
conditions [FMS as well as CFS(ME)] is the most important cause
and they use the terms ‘masked depression’ and ‘somatoform
disorder’ to describe such conditions. This is resented by those
afflicted by CFS(ME) or FMS who see the psychological and
emotional symptoms as being the result of their fatigue, pain
and general illhealth, and not as causes.
‘Foggy Brain’ Symptoms 10
Memory lapses, inability to concentrate, dyslexic episodes
[inability to recall simple words], are all part of many people’s
fibromyalgia (and of most people’s chronic fatigue) and modern
technology has now identified what may be happening in the brain
with these conditions.