How Is Fibrositis Different From Fibromyalgia?

Fibrositis and fibromyositis are outdated terms for fibromyalgia.

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Question

Does Social Security consider fibrositis the same as fibromyalgia, and not grant disability benefits for it?

Answer

The various terms for fibromyalgia (FM) or fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) cause a lot of confusion. This is partly caused by the fact that, in the early days of fibromyalgia, little was understood about it. Both fibrositis and fibromyositis are former names for fibromyalgia. While fibrositis, or fibrositis syndrome, is sometimes still used as a synonym for fibromyalgia, it is really a misnomer, since fibromyalgia is not an inflammatory disorder of connective tissue ("-itis" means inflammation). Similarly, fibromyositis is chronic inflammation of a muscle. While fibrositis and fibromyositis have some symptoms in common with fibromyalgia, FMS does not involve inflammation.

Fibromyalgia is increasingly thought to be associated with abnormal pain processing areas of the brain, making it a neurological disorder rather than a rheumatological disorder. You're more at risk for it if you have arthritis or lupus. But if you plan to apply for disability benefits for fibromyalgia, it's best to see a rheumatologist, because these doctors have the most experience with fibromyalgia.

Some FM patients have been granted Social Security or SSI for fibromyalgia, although it can be difficult unless you have other serious medical conditions as well. To get an approval, it's important that you see a doctor regularly and that your doctor documents all of your symptoms and limitations in your medical records and submits them to Social Security. For more information, read our article on getting disability benefits for fibromyalgia.

Many people with fibromyalgia also have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); both syndromes share symptoms in common. As a result, reading our article on disability for CFS may help you win your disability claim for fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is also similar to myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), another soft tissue syndrome. But while FM may involve multiple tender points, MPS is said to involve various trigger points that can refer pain elsewhere. Patients with myofascial pain syndrome may be able to qualify for disability as well, and Social Security would likely evaluate it in a similar way to fibromyalgia.

Updated December 20, 2021

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