Fibromyalgia Vs Arthritis: How to Diagnose

I get regular emails asking me to compare Fibromyalgia to Arthritis. I think that may be because many people are diagnosed with “Arthritis” and then spend years trying to find out why they feel exhausted all the time. They have chronic pain, can’t sleep through the night without waking up in agony, or have swollen knuckles for no reason. Now some of the symptoms of arthritis are indeed some of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, but they can be different. I’ll try to explain this in detail below.

The Difference Between Arthritis and Fibromyalgia…

Arthritis is an inflammation (swelling) of one or more joints in your body. Which causes stiffness, pain, redness, heat, and swelling around the joint(s). There are many different types of arthritis, all with slightly different causes. The inflammation may stem from injury to that part of the body. Or it may just happen for no apparent reason at all. Some forms of arthritis have been linked with genetics/family history. So you could have a predisposition to it if anyone else in your family does. Not everyone who gets arthritis has a family history though. If you do have a family history of arthritis. It may be that your body is more likely to activate some genes or other factors which contribute to the inflammation and swelling of those joints.

Some types of arthritis are autoimmune in nature. This means that your body makes antibodies against itself. It confuses its own tissues with foreign tissue like a virus or bacteria and attacks them. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune type of arthritis. In Rheumatoid Arthritis the immune system specifically targets the lining around the joints in your body. It can cause inflammation in areas other than just your joints though – it can affect skin, eyes, lungs, heart, etc.

Fibromyalgia is when you experience pain all over. Any type of pain really – but with no actual sign of injury anywhere, no swelling/inflammation whatsoever. People with Fibromyalgia often have ‘trigger points. Where they feel almost unbearable burning or shooting pains in their muscles and soft tissues. But there is no swelling or redness anywhere.

Arthritis can be very mild and hardly noticeable, while Fibromyalgia can be extremely severe with symptoms that are sometimes hard to handle.

Some people have both though, some only one, some neither. It depends on the person.

Symptoms of Arthritis include…

  • Pain in multiple joints
  • Stiffness in joints after rest or inactivity
  • Swelling of joints
  • Heat around a joint before/during/after activity (warm bath, heating pad)
  • Redness around a joint before/during activity

Other symptoms which could show up either with arthritis or Fibromyalgia but not everyone experiences them include

  • fatigue,
  • fevers,
  • nausea,
  • lack of appetite,
  • weight loss,
  • tenderness in the abdomen, chest, or spine, or headaches.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Include…

  • Headaches (some people with arthritis also have migraines)
  • Deep aching pain all over, not just in one area of the body like joints.
  • It feels like a constant burning sensation and can be very severe at times.
  • Many people experience shooting pains though.
  • The pain gets worse with rest after activity, stress, and weather changes/storms.
  • People often feel muscle spasms similar to charlie horse’s muscles twitches where they clench up without control.
  • This is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism too but many Fibromites experience it from time to time anyway whether they have hyperthyroid or not
  • Waking up with pain and stiffness is very common for people with Fibromyalgia, sometimes so bad they can’t move until after an activity of some sort (ie walking)
  • Many people also experience extreme fatigue to the point where they feel like complete zombies all day long. A lot of times it gets worse as the day goes on too.

They may find themselves having a much easier time doing chores in the morning before they get going though, whereas later in the afternoon or evening it’s much harder for them to do anything at all. Some people also have trouble sleeping through the night – insomnia is a big problem for many Fibromites.

Other Conditions Which Differentiate between Fibromyalgia and Arthritis

People with fibromyalgia are more likely than arthritis patients to get irritable bowel syndrome and experience constipation quite often. Many people mention a ‘pins and needles sensation all over their body, especially the hands and feet

Others have constant brain fog or trouble remembering things that just happened let alone 3 days ago.

People with Fibromyalgia often take a long time to process text as well, they feel like they’re taking forever to read it even though it doesn’t take any longer for them to see it than anyone else would. The problem is coming up with words – getting from one word to another mentally.

Fibro can make you say “uhhhh” instead of actually searching for the right word similar to what happens when you rack your brain trying to remember something that’s on the tip of your tongue but your mind just can’t grasp it.

The Final Words

There’s no way to diagnose fibromyalgia other than by eliminating other possible conditions that may cause similar symptoms, through thorough exams/lab testing, etc. The CDC estimates about 1 in every 300 people have Fibromyalgia though some reports indicate up to 3% of the population has it. That’s approximately 10 million Americans alone who are coping with daily pain, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, and inflammation even though there seems to be nothing actually wrong with them anywhere…

Also Read – 5 Ayurvedic Tips for Fibromyalgia


Must Read Of The Day

Truth behind golden milk

About Sukhayu

In name of Ayurveda centers and hospitals, resorts are common. And this dragged Ayurveda to a category of relaxation and spa only. This is the reason, Ayurveda pendulum between spa and hotels. Hospitals are not common in Ayurveda.

Leave a comment

Connect with us

Cashless Treatment Facilities Available