I am truly learning everyday about these two diseases and I am blown away all the time with the comparisons to myself, there are also things I’ve found that do not necessarily affect me, enforcing the adage “No two Peoples experiences are the same.”
Some of the information I was reading today from an article in an email I receive from everyday HEALTH, really made me wonder…Have these two beasts been lurking within for longer than even I thought? Definitely falls into the “Things that make you go hmmm?” category.
It is of course noted that more Women than Men are affected by both diseases. I did not know that around 30% of the people diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis are also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia either at the same time or within a short time frame thereafter and it may not be in that order. The development of both conditions together is a phenomena known as “Comorbidity”
The most common denominator of the two conditions is “PAIN“! Although it does tend to come from different places. To date there are currently no specific diagnostic tests for either Rheumatoid or Fibromyalgia, however Physicians utilize certain criteria to determine each disease, through the process of a physical examination and detailed medical history.
With Rheumatoid Arthritis there are generally more identifiable physical manifestations such as hot swollen red joints especially within the wrists, fingers, ankles and knees.
When diagnosing Fibromyalgia a physician, in addition to obtaining the physical exam and medical history, will also assess pain in 19 different areas known as tender points throughout the body as well as other symptoms like fatigue, problems with thinking and memory (Fibro Fog), as well as a feeling of exhaustion after a nights sleep. Fibromyalgia symptoms have to be experienced for at least three months and can’t be explained by any other health issue.
For patients with Fibromyalgia “everything hurts” and adding in the stress of uncontrolled RA can increase the pain sensitivity a person with Fibromyalgia already experiences. A study published in the Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons – Pakistan from 2014 demonstrated that patients with both conditions experience higher perceptions of pain and significantly higher joint disease activity scores, then a patient who has RA alone.
Key difference of the disorders are; RA is characterized by inflammation of the joint lining and can present in physical damage and deformities and can also lead to issues such as scarring of the lungs, neuropathy, and others. A Fibromyalgia patients brain identifies pain in muscles or joints when it shouldn’t (a process known as central sensitization) but doesn’t cause physical issues of joint damage or scarring in the lungs like RA.
Neither disease has a cure, there are definitely Homeopathic and medication treatments available to battle the horrible problems (not everything works for everyone) that can arise. Remember that each disease has to be treated with individual treatment plans and medicinal methods since each disorder is rooted in different body processes (RA Autoimmune and Fibro Central Nervous System) do your research. It is your body and your health you must be proactive. A lesson I am still attempting to master.