From the Quarterly Journal of Medicine, 26 August 2012, E-published ahead of print.
Is chronic fatigue syndrome the same illness as fibromyalgia: evaluating the
‘single syndrome’ hypothesis.
Abbi B, Natelson BH.
From the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, DVA Medical Center, East
Orange, NJ and Pain and Fatigue Study Center, Department of Pain Medicine and
Palliative Care, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, USA.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FM) are medically unexplained
syndromes that can and often do co-occur. For this reason, some have posited that
the two are part of the same somatic syndrome-examples of symptom amplification.
This hypothesis would suggest that few differences exist between the two
To evaluate this interpretation, we have searched the literature for
articles comparing CFS to FM, reviewing only those articles which report
differences between the two.
This review presents data showing differences across a number of parameters – implying that the underlying pathophysiology in CFS may differ from that of FM. We hope that our review encourages other groups to look for additional differences between CFS and FM.
By continuing to preserve the unique illness definitions of the two syndromes, clinicians will be able to better identify, understand and provide treatment for these individuals.