The difference between rheumatoid arthritis And fibromyalgia
One of these disorders is very common, and you may even know someone with it. While the other is so discreet and misunderstood, that even those who have it often struggle to understand it themselves. Of course, the former is rheumatoid arthritis, and the latter is Fibromyalgia.
Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia disorders have a lot more in common than they do. But the differences between Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia are essential if you can identify them, nothing like it. However, they may sometimes also go hand in hand. This all feels a little too overwhelming if you haven’t got the slightest idea of what rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia disorders are, so here’s a breakdown:
- Arthritis-related Conditions
Arthritis of any kind, and few other pain and joint disorders, are all categorized under this large umbrella. Fibromyalgia too comes under this category. However, what sets them apart? And further, are people who have arthritis more likely to get fibromyalgia? Arthritis is a word used to refer to all disorders that cause painful stiffness and inflammation of the joints. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a kind of arthritis that causes painful levels of immobility and deformity, along with the pain mentioned above and inflammation. This kind of arthritis is especially worse in the joints that make up the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles. Fibromyalgia (FMS) is similar but marked by widespread pain and overall fatigue and nausea. This also translated into sleep and memory problems. Other symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia include headaches and sensitivity to sudden light, temperature, or sound changes. It’s obvious why these conditions are often mixed to the point that patients are wrongly diagnosed with RA when it’s FMS. This becomes a problem because of these conditions, although similar in the way that they manifest themselves, progress differently. This also implies that treatment is very different for both rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
- Marked differences
The defining difference between rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia is the levels of damage they cause or don’t. Unlike RA, which causes visible inflammation, and is followed by actual physical damage caused to the body, or specifically the joint. This is because RA is an autoimmune disorder. The same cannot be said for FMS; it causes no actual damage to the parts where the pain occurs. In fact, FMS hardly affects joints and other connective areas. The pain is often in places like the lower back, thigh and arms, area which RA doesn’t affect. Another difference is that people suffering from RA notice that the pain is often double-sided. For example, if you have joint pains on your right ankle or wrist, you will notice the same on the left side of your body as well. This pain can also be altered with exercise and movement. The same cannot be said for FMS. The kind of pain itself varies. RA is more consistent, constant, and marked a day to day pain in the joint or area affected. Whereas FMS pain is more diffused and migratory, and the pain levels go up and down in waves, like a volume knob going up and down. While RA pain is caused by actual inflammation and damage, FMS pain is thought to be caused by the abnormal way in which the spinal cord and brain process, transmit, and interpret the pain signals.
- Risk of Double Trouble
It has been proven that having an inflammatory form of arthritis, can seriously increase one’s chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. However, if it goes the other way around, it can become much more serious. This is because when someone with FMS is too busy fighting off the pain receptors firing endlessly, they are often fatigued. This pain also causes restless sleep and problems in concentration. Chronic pain without any evidence tends to lower one’s tolerance for pain and makes RA much more difficult and painful to deal with. More recent research also suggests that FMS is classified as a spectrum disorder. This means that more people with RA are at risk of being diagnosed with FMS, ranging from mild to severe, than ever before. What happens instead is that the increased pain is attributed to a possible increase in the severity of RA, which is then treated with more pain reducing drugs that also target other symptoms of RA. This is rarely effective since the actual problem goes undetected, let alone untreated.
So how does one treat rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia differently? Well, it has to be a mixture of both pharmacological and nonpharmacological methods. For example, sleep-inducing drugs may help people with FMS to get the rest they need. But they also need to be trained in ways that they can get their body some physical exercise, which has been proven over time and again to help with all kinds of pain disorders.
Besides this, any number of relaxation techniques or therapies can help people suffering from fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis; or Rheumatoid Arthritis Fibromyalgia. These techniques may also help patients reframe the pain they feel from fibromyalgia rheumatoid arthritis, and in turn, the way they react to it.