Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis, What Are the Differences?

Q:
What are the differences between fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis?

A:
When you have some symptoms like pain and fatigue, you may wonder if you have fibromyalgia. But actually, there are other possibilities, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of them.

Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia are two different conditions with some similar symptoms, including

  • pain that may feel like a dull ache
  • sleep disturbances
  • fatigue
  • feelings of depression and anxiety

Specifically speaking, except the symptoms above, here are a lot of differences between the two conditions.

Causes of the symptoms

RA: an autoimmune disease when the body’s immune system to attack the joints

fibromyalgia: a disorder focused in the muscles

Differences on symptoms

RA: your symptoms will flare up, or come and go, periodically, including:

  • joint pain, tenderness, and stiffness
  • red, swollen joints, often in your hands or feet
  • inflammation

fibromyalgia: widespread pain, and other possible symptoms such as

  • trouble with memory, often called fibro fog
  • headaches
  • menstrual pain
  • restless leg syndrome
  • sensitivity to temperature, loud noises, or bright lights
  • numbness or tingling

Even if both conditions share similar symptoms, the treatments for both conditions are very different.

RA

  • common pain relievers, such as Tylenol
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as Motrin/Advil and Aleve
  • COX-2 inhibitors, such as Celebrex
  • glucocorticoids, such as prednisone and methylprednisolone
  • disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs

fibromyalgia

  • prescription drugs
  • supplements
  • a specially tailored, moderate exercise program
  • complementary or alternative treatments

However, if you do suffer from both two conditions, you can concentrate on a few key areas for more relief, good joint protection, and a better quality of life.

Finally, remember, no matter which one you get or both, the first thing is to call you doctor and get a physical exam carefully.

 

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.