Synonyms and Approximate Synonyms for Fibromyalgia or for Disorders That Are Along the Fibromyalgia-Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Continuum

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These are names for disorders that are similar to, or synonymous with, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, or overlapping disorders between them.


This list is not exhaustive. Some obscure names for disorders resembling CFS which were not included.

There is probably no disorder in all of medicine that has had more names than fibromyalgia. Why couldn’t people agree? Why did people keep coming up with new names? Perhaps many of them thought they had discovered a new disorder.

There are so many old names, that considerable work was required to make even this partial list.

Since there has not been an objective test for fibromyalgia, and since fibromyalgia is a syndrome (which a wide range of symptoms, co-morbidities and severities) it is likely that the inventors of the names were not always talking about exactly the same thing.

One notable reference in which a strong effort was made to list the names is Perrot’s article “If fibromyalgia did not exist, we should have invented it. A short history of a controversial syndrome S. Perrot Reumatismo, 2012; 64 (4): 186-193, available in full online at:

Perrot credits Guillaume de Baillou (1592) with the first medical description of fibromyalgia and with being the first person to define the term “rheumatism” in its modern sense. (See: Liber de rheumatismo, which contains descriptions of muscular pain that are similar to fibromyalgia.) Perrot argues this is "probably the very first medical description of fibromyalgia." (Perrot, 2012)

It is now quite clear that fibromyalgia is largely a neurological disorder with little to do with the fibrous tissues other than the fact that the patients often say they, in addition to their muscles, are painful. The word “fibromyalgia” is therefore something of a misnomer.

The pain is most often described patients as being in the muscles. Most patients are tired and therefore “asthenic”. The most commonly used name prior to the modern era for the fibromyalgia—chronic fatigue syndrome continuum was “neurasthenia”. “Asthenic” means tired, and most fibromyalgia patients, and all chronic fatigue syndrome patients, are tired.

Fibromyalgia is not an ideal name, but it is best not to change it as this would add more confusion.

Table of Synonyms and Approximate Synonyms for Fibromyalgia
Year Name of similar disorder Author/originator of the name Source Comments
1833 Neurasthenia Dunglison Dunglison's Medical Dictionary of (Dercum) Generally, authors of dictionaries are not the people who coined the words. It seems likely that Dunglison got the word from an earlier unnamed source. Note that the neuron was not clearly discovered until 1891. The word “asthenia” dates back at least as far as 1788. It is a noun meaning “weakness” “debility” or feebleness. It is derived from “sthenos” which means “strength” or “power”.
1837 Hysterical spinal neuralgia Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie Lectures illustrative of certain local nervous affections Author Benjamin Collins Brodie. Publisher: Longman et al., London, 1837 available online at:
1841 Neuralgia F. Valleix/Francios Valleix Traite Des Nervalgies (Treatise on Neuralgia.) Paris. Valleix FL. Ou Affections Douloureuses Des Nerfs.: JB Bailliere; Paris.1841:266–594, available in full online at:
1843 Muskelschwiele Froriep For an article see: Chronic "Rheumatic" Myositis (Muskelschwielen), With Cases Showing Some Common Errors in Diagnosis. Yawger, N. S. The Lancet, July 1, 1909, available in full online at: Simons pointed out that in mid-nineteenth century Germany a group of fibromyalgia symptoms occurred that was collectively labeled as ‘Muskelschwiele’ which means “muscle callus” and he said it was considered to be a “generalized body tenderness with rheumatism”. (Muscle pain syndromes—Part I. Am J Phys Med. 1975;54(6):289–311. Simons DG, Wikipedia 2017 states: “In 1843 Froriep made early mention of a condition that would later be known as fibromyalgia, describing it as ‘rheumatism with painful, hard places’ that could be felt in many locations on the body.[3] He characterized the condition as muskelschwiele (muscle callus) and reported his findings in a paper titled "Ein beitrag zur pathologie und therapie des rheumatismus".[4]” (

1858/59 and 1877 Nervosisme E Bouchut De l'état nerveux aigu et chronique, ou, Nervosisme...
1864 Neurasthenia Silas Weir Mitchell Fat and Blood: An Essay on the Treatment of Certain Forms of Neurasthenia and Hysteria. Mitchell, Silas Weir. Edited, with Additions, by John K. Mitchell, Philadelphia/London: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1902. 12mo. 8th Revised Edition, Later printing. [First published 1864]. available online at: For the 1902 edition see:
1866 Railway spine JE Erichsen On railway and other injuries of the nervous system.
1867 Neurasthenia EH Van Dusen/Van Deusen "Observations on a form of Nervous Exhaustion (Neurasthenia) Culminating in Insanity": He mentions using morphine for severe pain to help sleep.
1869 Neurasthenia GM Beard Beard, George Miller. Neurasthenia or nervous exhaustion. Boston Med Surg J. 1869; 29:217-21 available in full online through Google Books See: The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Volume 80. This is page 217 in Google Books. The link is at:
1878 Nervous Exhaustion GM Beard Certain symptoms of nervous exhaustion. This is an often-quoted early work on neurasthenia.
1890 Psychosomatic neurasthenia CL Dana See page 81.
1894, 1898 Neurasthéniques Gilles De La Tourette Les états neurasth.
1894 Nervous exhaustion Beard, George, Miller and Rockwell, Alphoso David, E. B. Treat. A practical treatise on nervous exhaustion (neurasthenia), its, symptoms, New York, 1894 available online at:

and at: ||

1901 Encephalasthenia Althaus On failure of brain power (encephala-asthenia); its nature and treatment.
1903 Neurasthenia Sir William Osler
1904 Fibrositis Sir William Gowers A Lecture on Lumbago: It's Lessons and Analogues. Gowers recommended that the pain of “muscular rheumatism” be called “fibrositis”
1907 Traumatic neurasthenia Dreyer, Mirto & Monguzzi (For comments by a number of physicians on this topic from 1928 see: Discussion on traumatic neurasthenia and the litigation neurosis. Various authors. Proc R Soc Med. 1928 January; 21(3): 353–364 available online at:
1929 Myofibrositis G.R. Murray Myofibrositis as simulator of other maladies. Murray G: Lancet 1929, 1:113–116, partially visible online at:
1940 Idiopathic myalgia M. Gutsein (under the name Gutstein-Good) Idiopathic Myalgia Simulating Visceral and other Diseases.’ The Lancet 2: 326–328, 1940, and also partially visible online at:
1940 Common rheumatism M. Gutstein Common rheumatism and physiotherapy, Gutstein M: Br J. Phys Med 3:46-50, 1940. (No source available online as of April 2019.)
1943 Psychogenic rheumatism P. Boland and W. Corr Psychogenic Rheumatism: The Musculoskeletal Expression of Psychoneurosis, Edward W. Boland. Ann Rheum Dis. 1947; 6(4): 195–203. See:
1944 Fibrositis of the back WSC Copeman, WL Ackerman QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, Volume 13, Issue 2-3, 1 April 1944, Pages 37–52,, published: 01 April 1944
1947 Psychosomatic Non-articular Rheumatism E. P. Edmonds Psychosomatic Non-Articular. E. P. Edmonds. doi: 10.1136/ard.6.1.36. Ann Rheum Dis. 1947 6: 36-49
1950 Non-articular rheumatism M. Gutstein The Role of Skeletal Muscles in the Pathogenesis of Diseases, M. G. Good, Journal of Internal Medicine, partially visible online at: He also speaks in this article about characteristic referred pain at “myalgic spots”. This sounds much like myofascial pain syndrome.
1976 or earlier fibromyalgia PK Hench Nonarticular rheumatism, 22nd rheumatism review: review of the American and English literature for the years 1973 and 1974. Philip K. Hench - Arthritis Rheum, 1976. As of April 2019 this article was not available online, however there was an account of it in an article entitled: “If fibromyalgia did not exist, we should have invented it. A short history of a controversial syndrome” by S. Perrot, Reumatismo, 2012; 64 (4): 186-193, Grob stated: “In the absence of any evidence of inflammation of connective tissue, he suggested that the term fibromyalgia was more appropriate … the term could also refer to local, regional, or diffuse rheumatic conditions in which evidence of organic disease was absent. According to Hench, ‘This then is idiopathic or primary, at least until scientific evidence can uncover underlying pathogenetic mechanisms’ (p. 1088).” The Rise of Fibromyalgia in the 20th Century. Gerald N. Grob, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Volume 54, Number 4, Autumn 2011, pp. 417-437, available in full online at:
1976 Neurasthenic musculoskeletal pain syndrome H. Moldofsky, P. Scarisbrick Induction of neurasthenic musculoskeletal pain syndrome by selective sleep stage deprivation. Psychosom. Med. 38: 35-44, 1976,
1990 Tension myalgia Thompson JM Tension myalgia as a diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic and its relationship to fibrositis, fibromyalgia, and myofascial pain syndrome. Thompson JM: Mayo Clin Proc. 1990, 65:1237–1248

Additional sources on synonyms and conditions that are similar to fibromyalgia[edit]

History of Fibromyalgia: Past to Present. Fatma Inanici, MD and Muhammad B. Yunus, MD Current Pain and Headache Reports 2004, 8:369–378, partially visible online with references at:

The evolution of current concepts. Baldry PE: In Myofascial Pain and Fibromyalgia Syndromes. Edited by Baldry PE. Edinburg: Churchill Livingstone; 2001:3–15. (