Healthy Living

5 Key Differences Between Polymyalgia and Fibromyalgia

5 Key Differences Between Polymyalgia and Fibromyalgia

While those who have either polymyalgia and fibromyalgia know what makes both disorders different, they are often confused with one another by those who don't have it and even by some doctors. Besides having very similar names, these two disorders have overlapping symptoms.

In both disorders, the term "myalgia" means pain or discomfort in the muscles, and this symptom isn't seen by those who are outside of it, which makes them both difficult to understand by friends and family members. What is common between polymyalgia and fibromyalgia is that they are both often misdiagnosed, sometimes for each other, and these conditions can easily be overlooked. 

Before we get into the key differences between fibromyalgia and polymyalgia, let's get into what these diseases are and how they are caused.


This is a type of disorder that results in fatigue, memory problems, sleep problems, and chronic pain. According to statistics, this ailment is more common in women than in men. In the past, an individual would be diagnosed with this condition if he or she had tenderness and widespread pain in at least eleven of the already known eighteen trigger points.

Doctors used to detect the painful parts by pressing the suspected, and these points are:

  • Shoulders
  • Upper chest
  • Knees
  • Back of the head
  • Hips
  • Outer elbows

Nowadays, doctors do not use these procedures while diagnosing fibromyalgia. If a patient complains of widespread pain or a related form of discomforts for more than 3 months, while also not having any other symptoms, the doctors can make a formal diagnosis. The FM/a test can also be used to make a diagnosis or just to rule out fibromyalgia, and it is now being used more often because of the awareness around it and the amount of insurance companies covering it.

Causes of Fibromyalgia

The actual cause of this ailment is not well-known. In fact, doctors and medical researchers cannot tell the actual cause of this disturbing ailment. However, these professionals suspect that the condition is caused by the factors discussed below:

  • Trauma: Individuals who experience emotional or physical trauma can develop this condition. Many doctors and medical researchers associate it with post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Genetics: This ailment has actually been found in families. Any person with a family member suffering from the ailment has a high chance of suffering from it. Some scientists suspect that some genetic mutations play an important role in the development of fibromyalgia. However, the concerned genes have not yet been detected.
  • Stress: When an individual suffers from stress for a relatively long period of time, he or she may experience a variety of ailments that includes fibromyalgia. Stress is associated with hormonal disturbances that can cause the disorder.


Polymyalgia or Polymyalgia rheumatica is a type of disease in which the patient experiences stiffness, inflammation, and pain within the muscles in the hips, neck, and shoulders. The symptoms of this disease are usually worse during the morning. In most cases, fibromyalgia affects individuals who are 50 and above.

Polymyalgia is also commonly associated with a type of ailment known as giant cell arteritis, which causes vision difficulties, scalp tenderness, jaw pain, and headaches. It is possible for an individual to suffer from both giant cell arteritis and Polymyalgia rheumatica. According to a study done by Per Fauchald, M.D. and his friends, a person suffering from polymyalgia should take medications for about two years during the treatment.

Causes of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Like fibromyalgia, the actual cause of this ailment is not yet known. However, there are two main factors that are believed to trigger the development of this condition. These factors are discussed below:

  • Environmental exposure: New incidents of this condition tend to develop seasonally. In other words, they come in cycles. This means that an environmental trigger like a virus may be the actual cause of the condition. However, there is no one who can show the virus that causes polymyalgia.
  • Genetics: Some genes and gene variation can increase the chances of an individual suffering from this disease.