The number one thing in common for fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis is that they both can cause a great deal of inflammation and pain in the body. There are also other symptoms and reactions that can seem very similar for both conditions. At times, it can be very hard for the specialist or the patient to be able to make a clear distinction between the two, especially in the beginning.
Before starting to make a clear differentiation between both medical conditions, we can have a look at each one and try to give some general guidelines.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that is considered to affect more women than men and, it will usually appear for women between their twenties and fifties. This particular disorder has been associated with chronic fatigue, depression, sleep issues, anxiety; the patients experience pain and chronic pain within their bodies, and more specifically a widespread pain in the muscles, tissues, and bones.
There are certain locations in the body that specialists refer to as ‘tender points’ from where fibromyalgia causes the actual pain; however, it is difficult to know what causes the pain. It can be an old trauma, a sleep issue, or an infection among many other reasons.
Arthritis, on the other hand, which is a joint disease, appears when the cartilage – the cushioning part on the ends of the bones- is wearing out little by little. The patient may feel some discomfort in the spine area, it can be the back or the neck, and there is a loss of flexibility, especially located in the spine and neck area. The pain can also be felt within the whole body, sometimes affecting the arms and legs, making it difficult to stretch, to bend, or even to simply walk.
Even if fibromyalgia and arthritis can sometimes be considered the same illness in terms of symptoms and related pain, fibromyalgia is not at all a joint disease as it does not affect the joints or the muscles within the body. Some patients may have this sensation of muscle or joint inflammation, but in reality, the pain comes from another source which is these so called ‘tender points” mentioned earlier.
One thing is true with regards to both medical conditions; fibromyalgia just like arthritis is indeed a rheumatic condition as it affects the joint/tissue function.
Another common point is that both are causing chronic pain in the body.
It is recommended for patients that suffer from chronic pain related to fibromyalgia or arthritis to follow a certain routine that includes massage, mild exercises and medical acupuncture for soft tissue therapy.
Using alternative therapies like topical pain relief creams, to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in the body can be extremely beneficial; at the same time, it can help reduce any tension, anxiety attacks or fatigue.