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Fibromyalgia may be confused with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus

The symptoms of fibromyalgia can be confused with those of rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, making diagnosis difficult. One telling difference among these diseases is that joint inflammation is present in rheumatoid arthritis but never in fibromyalgia. With lupus, there can be a rash or kidney disease that would not be present in fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that is easily confused with other health issues, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. For the latest study researchers had participants complete the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) and the Symptom Impact Questionnaire (SIQ). The questionnaires were used to determine specific features that could outline differences between fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Results from both questionnaires revealed the biggest differences between the three conditions involved ‘tenderness to touch,’ ‘difficulty cleaning floors’ and ‘discomfort on sitting for 45 minutes.’ Other differences included mid-lower back pain, tenderness to touch, neck pain, hand pain, arm pain, outer lower back pain and sitting for 45 minutes.

The researchers concluded that these areas of pain should be combined for a new questionnaire to better diagnose and recognize fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes muscle pain and fatigue. This pain and tenderness is felt throughout the entire body. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Morning stiffness
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Problems with thinking or memory – fibro fog

Other pain conditions may coincide with fibromyalgia, such as irritable bowel syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome. Unfortunately, the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but doctors suspect that stressful or traumatic events, repetitive injuries, illness, or other specific diseases may factor into the development of fibromyalgia. Genes, too, may play a role in fibromyalgia, which make a person far more sensitive to pain than others.

Rheumatoid arthritis vs fibromyalgia

Although rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia may present themselves similarly, they are two very different conditions. The Arthritis Foundation considers fibromyalgia to be an arthritis-like condition but they, too, recognize the distinct differences.

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