Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia are two very different medical conditions that are often confused as being identified as they share several common signs and symptoms.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune, systemic inflammatory disease and causes the immune system to attack the joints leading to joint damage.
Fibromyalgia, on the other hand, is a chronic pain syndrome that causes musculoskeletal pain, such as pain in the muscles, bones, and joints and may cause tenderness, fatigue, sleeping troubles, brain fog (known as fibro-fog) and memory and mood problems. Fibromyalgia Rheumatoid Arthritis share symptoms such as pain that feel like a dull ache, sleeping disorder, fatigue and anxiety/depression related issues. However, medically they exhibit fundamental differences such as:
- Fibromyalgia is characterized by constant, chronic, widespread pain and tenderness that might worsen with poor sleep and stress. RA, on the other hand, flares up in localized regions such as certain joints and worsen over time without treatment.
- RA majorly affects the joints which may cause muscle and tendon pain and weakness while fibromyalgia primarily affects muscles and tendons around the joints, but not the joints themselves.
- The biggest difference between Fibromyalgia Rheumatoid Arthritis is inflammation. RA is an inflammatory disease that causes breakdown and pain in the joints. In fibromyalgia, there is no inflammation or swelling and no damage to any tissue or joint. While fibromyalgia is considered an arthritis-related condition, medically, it is not a true form of arthritis and is very different from RA as it does not cause elevated inflammation in the bloodstream, tissue inflammation, or damage to joints or muscles and is not organ-threatening.
- Fibromyalgia Rheumatoid Arthritis differ in pain spans where RA’s pain and inflammation may last up to six weeks, in fibromyalgia, it lasts for at least three months.
- RA can affect people of all ages including children although people between the ages of 30 and 60 years are most susceptible. On the contrary, fibromyalgia is most common among women over the age of 18 years, especially between the ages of 40 and 75 years.
Fibromyalgia Rheumatoid Arthritis may occur simultaneously but fibromyalgia does not cause RA or develop into it.