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7 Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses

Know the symptoms and what to do about them

2. Parkinson's disease

A degenerative disorder of the central nervous system

Symptoms: Tremors in hands, arms, legs, or head; stiff muscles; problems with balance or walking

Mimics: Alzheimer's, stroke, stress, traumatic head injury, essential tremor

Tests: There are no lab tests that can diagnose Parkinson's. It is typically diagnosed by a clinical examination.

woman with elbow pain from lupus Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses

Joint pain is a symptom of many conditions. — Photo by BSIP/Photo Researchers

3. Fibromyalgia

A chronic arthritis-like disorder characterized by widespread pain

Symptoms: Anxiety or depression, increased sensitivity to pain, incapacitating fatigue

Mimics: Rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome

Tests: Though no diagnostic lab tests are available, a diagnosis is typically made when patients report two symptoms: (1) a history of widespread pain lasting more than three months; and (2) the presence of at least 11 tender points, spots on the body that are extraordinarily sensitive to pain.

Next: Lyme disease. »

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AARP's David Certner discusses Medicare and fiscal cliff on NBC. Increasing the eligibility age could cost you — and others.

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