Pain is available in many sizes and shapes – not only big, small, burning, or aching, but chronic, progressive, acute, waning, episodic, and constant. Pain can differ from individual to individual and from condition to condition. But that makes it difficult to inform what sort of pain an individual is experiencing – and why. Understanding where your pain comes from is commonly step one to addressing it. Within the case of chronic health conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia, it is commonly the opposite non-pain symptoms that help provide essentially the most significant clues. Each rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia share major symptoms, similar to chronic joint pain, inflammation, and fatigue. But there are key differences in diagnosis, in addition to treatment.
Understanding and Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one in all over 100 different categorizations of arthritic pain, and it’s one of the common forms of arthritis. Arthritis generally describes any health condition with a primary characteristic of joint swelling and inflammation; rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder brought on by an attack on the tissue between your bones by your body’s cells. Unlike osteoarthritis, also generally known as wear-and-tear arthritis, the damage comes from inside.
Rheumatoid arthritis is called such since it primarily affects soft tissue and connective tissue. Unlike other forms of arthritis which might be mainly limited to joint pain, RA often spreads to other parts of the body – including the lungs, heart, eyes, skin, bone marrow, and nerve tissue. The results of severe RA is systemic pain, fatigue, and disability. Like other types of arthritis, symptoms can come and go in flares accompanied by swelling.
Understanding and Living With Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is an oft-misunderstood and still understudied chronic pain condition. Sometimes conflated or mistaken for other chronic pain conditions (similar to RA and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome), fibromyalgia is its diagnosis characterised by chronic exhaustion, systemic pain, musculoskeletal pain and inflammation, poor sleep or insomnia, and cognitive problems – especially memory loss and inability to focus. Fibromyalgia is commonly diagnosed alongside a minimum of one other chronic pain condition. Normally, these conditions include:
Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Fibromyalgia Symptoms
While RA and fibromyalgia symptoms are similar, the causes of every symptom — in addition to the best way individuals with each condition experience them — might be entirely unique. On the surface, each disorders are characterised by chronic widespread pain and fatigue. And although RA and fibromyalgia share many symptoms in common, each condition also has its own unique set of symptoms.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
- Chronic fatigue, or “RA fatigue,” that’s often described as deep tiredness or slowing down, akin to the sensation while recovering from the flu.
- Can attack the skin, lungs, and other organs but primarily affects the liner of your joints, especially extremities like fingers, wrists, feet, and elbows.
- Causes swollen, red joints.
- Shows clear signs of inflammation, including swollen lymph nodes, increased tenderness, and a long-lasting low-grade fever.
- May cause symptoms in your organs, including dry eyes, shortness of breath, sensitivity to light, skin discoloration, and anemia.
- Blood tests may also help physicians discover markers of inflammation and a possible autoimmune disorder.
- Pain is widespread but often affects the muscles first. It must also occur in multiple locations – not only one side of the body or above the waist, but above and below, on each the left and the precise.
- Is harder to discover physically. An individual with fibromyalgia may not experience any swelling or clear indications of inflammation but can still feel chronic, draining pain.
- Has a novel type of mental fatigue called “fibro fog.” Patients regularly struggle with concentration, memory, and mood swings. These symptoms must occur individually from the distraction that the pain itself creates.
- Fibromyalgia fatigue is omnipresent, meaning you may get up from an extended rest and feel drained such as you haven’t slept.
- Patients with fibromyalgia usually tend to suffer from symmetric pains on specific points of their body, including the knees, elbows, collarbone, and back of the top. Moreover, they usually tend to experience symptoms of co-occurring physical conditions similar to IBS, TMJ, and migraine.
- Most diagnostic tests include ruling out other causes quite than finding any physical signs of fibromyalgia. It is because there are few good tests to elucidate or single out fibromyalgia pain, and is simply considered if the pain has remained consistent for a minimum of three months.
Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Fibromyalgia Treatments
While rheumatoid arthritis (RA) vs fibromyalgia symptoms are similar, the causes greatly differ. As such, the causes of those conditions are generally the influencing aspects for determining treatment.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
Rheumatoid arthritis is commonly treated with specific medication, similar to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biological medicines. DMARDs deal with slowing and reducing the speed at which rheumatic inflammation spreads. They work otherwise from over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, which might reduce swelling temporarily but don’t decelerate rheumatic arthritis. Within the meantime, biological drugs block specific immune functions to scale back the body’s autoimmune response. Pain management is one other treatment element that each fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis share.
In cases of fibromyalgia, a tailored and comprehensive pain management plan is commonly the one practical course of treatment. This includes physical therapies and mental health treatment to handle mood changes and better rates of tension and depression – each of which might result in lower pain thresholds and hyperalgesia. Treatments could also be trial and error at first. There are a number of antirheumatic drugs, in addition to conventional painkillers.
The Final Takeaway
Finding a treatment approach that works best for you may take time, which is why working with pain specialists is important. A dedicated pain clinic can assist you find the right modalities to your condition and live a greater life.