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Adrienne Dellwo

Fibromyalgia & Multiple Sclerosis: Could I Have Both?

By September 2, 2010

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When you have fibromyalgia, it's fairly common for new symptoms to crop up and convince you that something else is wrong. Sometimes it's "just fibro," but other times, it really is something else.

One of the diseases I've suspected at times is multiple sclerosis. It's hard not to -- our symptom lists are nearly identical, both conditions are highly variable and hard to diagnose, and both can have flares and remissions.

My About.com colleague Julie Stachowiak, Guide to Multiple Sclerosis, recently posted a great answer to the question: Can people have fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis at the same time? While the short answer is "yes," there's a lot more to say on the subject. Read Julie's interesting and thorough article here:

Have you ever suspected multiple sclerosis? What symptoms had you wondering? Have you been tested for it? Leave your comments below!

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo Jason Reed/Getty Images

September 3, 2010 at 3:32 pm
(1) Foxylady7419 says:

I have been tested twice for MS…have the “suspicious spots” in MRI of brain but spinal fluid levels haven’t been elevated enough for them to classify it as MS. The last neuro that tested me, said he couldn’t say I didn’t have it because of the MRI findings, but couldn’t say I did because of the spinal fluid…so guess I may or may not! LOL I do continue to add to my symptoms list with fibro and as you said, a lot are very similiar to MS. It always concerns me…is this just another symptom manifesting itself with the fibro or is it something new? Hate continually going to doctors to only be told that it is again just something else with the fibro!

September 3, 2010 at 3:43 pm
(2) Ay Up Petal says:

It was immediately after a complicated and lengthy spinal surgery that I began to show full blown symptoms. During a follow up visit a few months later I laughingly asked my surgeon if anyone had stood on my oxygen line during the surgery because I had then what I know now as fibro fog quite badly. After more questioning and a litany of other symptoms came forth my surgeon scheduled some testing. He didn’t tell me at the time that he suspected MS because he didn’t want to worry me. Thankfully the tests were negative for MS, but that’s when he told me of my fibromyalgia. I’m thankful I had a surgeon who knew about this and didn’t pooh-pooh it like some other doctors might have- this was 13 years ago. I was able to put a name to my problems and cope as best as I could.

September 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm
(3) Donna says:

I have so many symptoms that could be MS or Fibro. Many appear to be neurological in nature. I have yet to have a doctor tell me that I don’t have MS. But, none of them have told me that I don’t. I do have a diagnosis of FMS/CFS. The last neurologist that I saw just told me that I was depressed and out of shape. He said outright that depression causes fibro, not the other way around.

September 3, 2010 at 4:15 pm
(4) Omer says:

I couldn’t comment there, so I’ll comment here – and perhaps, Adrienne, you’ll be able to contact her an show her our comments.

I think that a very interesting question has arose from WPI’s study. They looked for XMRV also in 3 patients with MS that is very not typical in comparison with most patients with MS. They found XMRV in all of these 3 patients. They also tested 20 fibromyalgia patients and found 12 of them (60%) to be XMRV positive – and that’s by just one method of test (only 67% of the ME/CFS patients tested with one method of testing were positive for XMRV, but when WPI tested them also with other methods they found that the real percentage of XMRV positive there is 98% – so it’s very possible that there were more than 12 fibromyalgia patients there who are XMRV positive).

Now it should be said that all of these patients came from families of ME/CFS patients who are XMRV positive – thus, there is a possibility that they got infected from their family members but that their illness is not caused by XMRV – but it’s also possible that the two family members got infected with XMRV – one developed ME/CFS and the other MS or Fibromyalgia or Autsim (40%-57% of the small number of Autism patients that were tested were found to be XMRV positive).

So perhaps the similarity between MS and fibromyalgia is because they are both caused by the same thing – XMRV or another MLV-related virus.

September 3, 2010 at 4:39 pm
(5) edwards29 says:

After a year of having tremendous water build-up in my calves, then losing it all in a matter of days with almost constant urination and diarrhea, I was left with very weak legs. My PCP considered MS and sent me to a neurologist, who determined I did not have the MS. I was later sent by my rheumatologist to physical therapy, where I regained a lot of my muscle strength; I should, however, have gone longer, as was recommended – but, money, you know. Have any of you out there who have FM or CFS ever had a large fluid build-up anywhere in your body? Mine was never diagnosed but left me with some arthritic-like symptoms – in my hands especially.

September 4, 2010 at 7:31 am
(6) Stacy says:

I have many of the symptoms of MS but have not been diagnosed. I have trouble swallowing at times. It feels like my brain just shuts down and I forget how to swallow. I have trouble sometimes with my balance and at times it seems as if my feet do not want to lift completely to walk. I have had an MRI but it did not show any signs, but that was three years ago. I have eye twitches,drop things, etc. In my humble opinion I believe that with much further research it will be discovered that Fibromyalgia and MS are one in the same disease with Fibro being a first cousin so to speak to MS.

October 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm
(7) Carolyn says:


Trouble swallowing was a big thing with me as well. It can be so frightening at times!

I do have both Fibro and MS .. also CFS. I know with the Chronic Fatigue, my neck glands can become quite large which pushes on the throat.. whether or not this causes the problem, I don’t know. I am more apt to think it is part of my MS.

I think Fibro and MS are related as well. Although in having Fibro first for many years, I can see a difference in them.

I hope you get a follow up MRI. Hang in there!

September 5, 2010 at 10:55 am
(8) nativechick says:

edward… I, too, have fluid buildup in my calves. Between the time I get up in the morning and late in the evening, there’s a noticeable difference in the size and tightness in my calves and ankles. My ankles don’t swell in the conventional manner… my ankle bone goes from looking normal in the morning to looking like I had a golf ball surgically implanted (by day’s end). The doctors have just breezed over this fact.
I just turned 45 and I have OA in my neck (two compressed nerve roots), lumbar/SI region, hands, knees, ankles and feet – fibromyalgia-CFS-CPS. Maybe this is a symptom of the diagnosis we have in common?

September 7, 2010 at 11:56 am
(9) Ruth says:

I have both CFS and FMS, all sarted with EBV. I have been depressed for 13 years and had the EBV start up 11 years ago, felt like I had a wicked flu. Imagine my surprise when at 41 I was told I had ‘mono’! I have taken every med imaginable for the pain, including 5 1/2 years on morphine. Didn’t help, still breakthrough pain. I’m now on savella along with my prozac. Last time I tried savella, they took me off my prozac and I went nuts. I’ve asked for the XMRV test, but my Dr’s say no insurance will pay for the test, it’s too expensive. The brainfog is the worst, and losing the word or thought in the middle of a convo. Drives me crazy! I’ve read that FMS can possibly cause MS, but according to my last neuologist, he says ‘no way’. It’s all so confusing and so very tiring.

September 14, 2010 at 2:46 pm
(10) Julie says:

I’ve also been tested (MRI’s) twice for MS. My “odd” symptoms started with MS like symptoms of feeling the numbness/tingling in both my arms at the same time. Since my best friend’s mom died from MS she immideately freaked out and made me promise to call my Dr. The MRI came back clean that time. Then less than 6 months later I started having massive pain in my eye, which was diagnosed as Optic Neuritis (also commonly related to MS). My Neurologist sent me for another MRI which again came back perfectly clean. It was after that and after running a ton of other tests that he referred me to a rheumatologist.

September 16, 2010 at 9:21 pm
(11) sharon says:

This past winter many of the more neurological symptoms of FM (weakness, extreme fatigue, pins and needles, brain buzzing, tingling, unsteady gait, vertigo,etc) appeared all together. I was even having some urine leakage. I saw an ENT who ordered an MRI but there were no lesions, just some little spots. I saw a neurologist who read the MRI and agreed that the spots were often seen with migraines. We decided to watch and see how I did and repeat the MRI if all symptoms continued. I don’t have them as a group now, though they frequently pop up one at a time. Right now we are looking at this winter’s event as a bad flare. Fortunately this neuro is very supportive of fibro patients and agrees it is a neurological disorder. We will repeat the MRI next year unless all symptoms disappear.

October 8, 2011 at 11:22 pm
(12) Carolyn says:

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2002 (although pretty sure I started having it in 1998) .. then in 2005, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was added. In July of this year I saw my neurologist because of persistant tingling, numbness, spasms, seeing spots, urine issues, shooting electric like pain, and increasing neuropathy. I insisted on an MRI and we had one done of both the brain and spine which showed multiple lesions on both. Had a lumbar puncture in August which confirmed I have MS as well.

Obviously I was both relieved at knowing what was going on.. and dismayed at the diagnosis.

So .. yes… people apparantly can get both.

November 2, 2011 at 12:18 pm
(13) rocko says:

Sorry to hear that.ihave mild lupus, fybromyalgia and chronic fatigue. what flares up themost is the fatigue and fybro. WOndered about MS. Used to work out a lot…reduced it significantly due to lack of energy. I used to get sensations I was urinating down mylegs and when i checkedn, nothing there. that was years ago. they did MRI but nothing. I have muscle weakness in arms. feel funny from time to time and i can’t describe to anyone because it is hard. I will pray for you. rocko

July 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm
(14) Cathy says:

I have both MS and Fibro symptoms. My doctor has told me she knows it is autoimmune disorder but does not know which one yet. MS is the suspicion right now. I have to go for me mri and i guess they will do another spinal(had one last year for migraines, military docs said it was ok, seeing a civilian doc now) my civilian doc right away could tell by my symptoms it was a autoimmune disorder. she put me on a gluten free diet and a dairy free, along with magnesium supplements. it has helped a lot, but i still have my bad days. I am just ready for a sure name for what i am going through so if i am not going to be able to work i can file for disability and work with my student loan people on this because there is no need to finish school that or find a job i will enjoy with my degree that is not stressful on my body.

July 10, 2012 at 5:35 am
(15) becky says:

I have had fibromyalgia for 6 years, the last 7 months I have felt loads worse. I have recently been having problems with controlling my bladder and bowel. I’ve also been getting dreadful facial nueralgia. Off to see a neurolagist shortly…I’m really frightened that I may have ms

November 19, 2012 at 4:21 am
(16) Shannon says:

I’ve had Fibromyalgia for some years now. I used to be able to go to high school and then later college, work and throughout all of this, take care of my aging parents. I was always in pain, but it was tolerable.

Within the last few years it has gotten much worse. I had to quit working and this year, I stopped going to school. Sometimes the pain is worse and flares up (like now) while other times it is bad, but I can at least take care of my parents.

A year ago I got a brain scan looking for brain damage (hemoplegic migraine, thought it was a stroke!) and for MS. It came back normal on all counts. But, as I’m on the second round of medications that aren’t working, I have to wonder.

This particular hospital and associates have a reputation as being a “glorified first aid station” and not the best services. I’ve read articles about misreading MRIs being common. I cannot help but wonder if I have MS in addition to FM and it was overlooked.

I’d love to be able to afford a neurologist and another scan. Perhaps someday.

It is horrible to have doubts about your doctors. Your life is in their hands, and to feel like the internet is more helpful than a doctor is very scary.

July 20, 2013 at 9:02 am
(17) Jean L says:

I’ve had fibro for several years and been on many different pain meds including methadone and none took care of the breakthrough pain. I’m now on Lyrica which pretty much stopped the flare-ups. Last friday I had what I thought was a mini-stroke as I thought I’d had several over the past few years. They did an MRI and it came back with many lesions and no evidence of stroke. The doc there said 99% chance of it being MS. Further testing is starting thursday with the round of docs starting….neurologist to verify. I’ve had many MS symptoms for about 10 years but thought they were all either the fibro or mini-strokes. I’m 57 and as I’ve been terrified of MS since taking care of several being a patient care tech. Now I feel like I’m living in limbo, just waiting for the ax to drop. Many of the symptoms are only the fibro, some fibro just doesn’t have, and it’s been a very confusing week.

January 11, 2014 at 4:12 am
(18) Auntie Nay says:

I too have FMS and CMS. In the past couple of months I have been having a lot more symptoms that I have never had before. EX: Migraine headaches, Blurry Vision, Neck Pain, Extreme fatigue (a lot more so than usual), making a lot of “stupid” mistakes at work where I have worked for 4 years and know the material backwards and forwards normally, Cannot come up with words, going 2-3 days without have a bowel movent even though I take Miralax every day (due to taking pain meds) and it has always worked before, etc, etc, etc. I went to my Dr and she did a bunch of blood tests and a CT scan of my head. The blood work came back showing signs of muscle deterioration and my sed rate was really high. I just had the CT today so wont have the results until Monday or Tuesday. I’m not sure why she ordered a CT and not the MRI but she said it depends on what the CT says if we need the MRI or not. She also said that depening on the results of these tests she will probably send me to see a neurologist. I am TERRIFIED that it is MS. Those of you that have had the lumbar puncture, how was it? That test really scares me. I have heard that they are incredibly painful! I too am really tired of going to the Dr all the time only to be told it is a symptom of Fibro. I try to keep my pain and issues to myself because I know people get tired of hearing about it but some times it is almost impossible to hide. I also hate the fact that people look at you and you look totally normal so they don’t understand why you can’t do everything they can. I also get really bad glares and staring when I park in the handicapped spot on days when it is really bad and I am so physically exhausted I can barely make it in the store and back out again. I wish there was more recognition for these HORRIBLE conditions so that people would be more understanding.

February 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm
(19) robert says:

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in January 2014 and my symptoms are progressing to become worse especially in my back at the spine and in my legs reducing my mobility to 50 metres maximum for walking without having to stop also have spasms in my hands and legs especially in my feet like cramps and it feels like they seize up. I have been having headaches but these are increasingly worse although I was prescribed Paracetamol 500mg 2 to be taken 4 times a day and Tramadol up to 4 times a day at 50mg which I usually have 3 a day with paracetamol. I take 25mg of Amitriplyine at night before bed and saw my General practictioner today not usual one as we never see same Doctor at surgery and he has changed my Tramadol to Codeine 30mg 2 times a day with The same dose of Paracetamol and upped my Amitriplyine to 2x25mg. I also get severe itching which really makes me want to scratch till I nearly draw blood but end up at moment with scratches
Is it feasible to ask for a neurologist referral for a scan for MS although he has ruled it out saying it is definitely Fibromyalgia and can’t be anything else as fibro isn’t a neurol disease.

April 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm
(20) Robyn says:

I have MS and FMS (epilepsy too). Diagnosed was FMS after yrs. of wide spread pain. The thing that got me talking to doc finally was strangely feeling sunburned without a sunburn! And hit almost every spot of the 18! This was after sunburn feeling was gone. Started meds; then had double vision in just right eye. MRI showed at least 5 lesions. Then the spinal fluid confirmed MS. AND the test for it caused me to be paralyzed ribs down and hand to elbows!! After months almost a year I walk without assistance yay! I have symtoms that fit both and symtoms that don’t! So I agree with my many doctors I have both. Darn the luck.

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