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What's the difference between lupus fog and fibro fog?

I am having a flare of major fatigue this week, enough to keep me off work. I'm walking around in a daze and very slowly, and am struggling to understand simple information - I just went to the bank to pay a cheque in and struggled to write out the paying in slip properly, and had to check it multiple times. I also stood at the pedestrian crossing thinking 'green man means go, right?' I also have a terrible memory pretty much constantly - if I don't write it down there's no chance I'll remember it.

Does this sound like lupus fog or fibro fog? What is the difference?

My rheumatologist says I don't currently fit the criteria for lupus and has diagnosed me with UCTD. She also thinks I may have fibromyalgia based on the brain fog and pain, stiffness and numbness in my hands and feet. I don't think fibromyalgia fits, because although I have pain in various places, they don't appear together and it's all in my small joints - wrists, fingers, ankles etc. I thought that fibro is more widespread pain and involves your shoulders and hips etc. I also have major light sensitivity including rashes which to me seems too much of a coincidence for it NOT to be lupus.

I wondered if there are particular characteristics of lupus fog and fibro fog, that would help me differentiate between them?

Thanks in advance!

3 Replies

Given that brain fog is a feature of almost all autoimmune disorders - besides fibro which may or may not be autoimmune - I doubt there is much difference in how they manifest. If there are differences it is probably from person to person judging by the complaints I have heard from people suffering from the same diagnosis.

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Hi LuckyJC,

Brain fog (cognitive dysfunction) is unfortunately a very poorly understood symptom of lupus, fibromyalgia and a number of other conditions. I do not believe that the presentation differs significantly between the two conditions you have mentioned, though it would vary between individuals anyway. There are many potential causes of brain fog. You can read more about this and get some tips for coping with it in our article here -

Your diagnosis of UCTD could potentially account for the symptoms that you have been experiencing, but if you are not satisfied with your current diagnosis and treatment plan then you could ask your GP to refer you to a different consultant for a second opinion? If you need information about any lupus specialists near you, just let me know what part of the country you are based in.


I'd go very strongly in the direction of getting a second opinion from a Specialist.

I'm not an expert but I don't think going numb in the hands and feet are a fibromyalgia symptom. Nor is arthritis.

I have a kind of arthritis that doesn't swell or go red so - pre - diagnosis I wasn't really listened to about this symptom. It did get in the way of a timely diagnosis.

Perhaps try for a Lupus Specialist or another Rheumatogist. Someone with multiple degrees under their belt. (I come from Australia - So I'm not sure you have them there - but a generalist specialist/consultant with a broader knowledge of everything is often handy.

Its true that brain fog comes with Lupus and immune type stuff etc. but if you get no joy from second opinions - see a neurologist. I have one just to double check my brain fog is just the Lupus and ensure nothing extra is going on.

I'd describe my brain fog as feeling a little disconnected from the world - literally foggy perception - a bit concussed - things not as vivid - a bit like the state when you just wake up before you clear your head - plus the thinking problems. Not much fun.



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