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Polymyalgia rheumatica versus fibromyalgia

It can be challenging to tell the difference between polymyalgia rheumatica and fibromyalgia. Both disorders appear out of nowhere, include body and muscle pain, and most often affect white women over 50 years old, though they can affect any gender or race of any age.

Polymaglia rheumatica, also known as PMR, can be either progressive or sudden and is marked by stiffness in the shoulders, neck, hips and thighs, and severe muscle pain. Fibromyalgia, also known as FMS, is marked by pain throughout the body and fatigue, and can also include irritable bowel syndrome, headache, sleep disturbances and numbness. Polymaglia rheumatica usually responds to a low dosage treatment of prednisone, and fibromyalgia does not.


1. Applying for disability with fibromyalgia
1. Can you get disability for Chronic fatigue and Fibromyalgia?
1. Can you qualify for Social Security Disability with fibromyalgia?

PMR has been around for over 100 years and is most often found in women over the age of 50. Fibromyalgia is found most often in women between the ages of 35 years old and 60 years old. PMR means ‘many muscle pain’, and FMS means ‘fibrous tissue muscle pain’. While similar, the two disorders are completely different. Only a physician can make the distinction between PMR and FMS, through laboratory tests, a physical examination and a detailed medical and family history.

The cause of the two disorders is still unclear. For PMR it is thought that genetics, infection and aging are the main causes. For FMS it is thought that physical or mental trauma, brain chemical imbalance, infection and genetics are the culprits. While low dosages of prednisone does usually help with polymyalgia rheumatica, fibromyalgia responds best to a variety of medicines that target specific symptoms, such as anti-depressants, sleeping pills and prescription pain medication. Fibromyalgia has also been known to respond to alternative and complimentary medicines and exercise.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

How to file for disability in Missouri
Receiving Social Security Disability for mental disorders
Applying for disability with uncontrolled hypertension and severe back pain
Rheumatoid Arthritis can occur at any age
Social Security Disability Children Benefits
Allodynia and Filing for Disability
Filing an SSI appeal
Social Security disability advocates
Application tip for filing for Social Security disability or SSI
Winning and getting disability with a mental condition
Getting disability for rheumatoid arthritis
How to file for disability in Rhode Island
Dire Need and Getting a Social Security Disability or SSI Case Speeded Up
Applying for disability with bipolar
Partial Social Security Disability SSI benefits

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Disability lawyer fee - what does an attorney cost?
Social Security Disability appeal status
The status of your social security disability or SSI case
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI tips
Maximum SSDI SSI Disability back pay
SSI disability back pay
How Far Back Will Social Security Pay Benefits?
What if the SSDI Disability application gets denied?
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions
When You File an SSI or Social Security Disability Application
After you file and apply for disability
Applying for disability, the application process
Tips for how to get approved for SSDI or SSI
Social Security Disability SSDI SSI Tips
Proving Social Security Disability for a mental condition
SSDI SSI Eligibility Requirements and Criteria
Qualifying for disability benefits (SSDI or SSI)
How does a person qualify for SSDI or SSI disability, how are they eligible?