Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia are painfully debilitating conditions that can affect your ability to live an active and enjoyable life. Having both can cause a mind-numbing cluster of symptoms that may make it hard to function at all.
So, where’s the good news? With the right treatment, it’s possible to overcome the challenges of either, or both, conditions.
David Berkower, DO, is a top-rated pain management specialist and physical medicine expert with a thriving practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida. He has a well-earned reputation for developing highly effective treatment strategies to address chronic pain conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Read what this talented physician, who leads the team at Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation, has to say about rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and how they’re connected.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that causes your immune system to attack and destroy vital cartilage in your joints. It’s a progressive condition that worsens over time and typically involves the smaller joints first, such as those in your fingers and toes, before moving into elbows, shoulders, knees, and other joints.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Tenderness and swelling in the affected joints
- Joint stiffness that’s usually worse in the morning and after periods of inactivity
- Loss of appetite
If left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can result in painful deformities that make it difficult and eventually impossible to move your joints. The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can also affect other organs, including your skin, eyes, lungs, and heart.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread muscle aches and pains on both sides of the body and above and below the waist. The pain is often described as a constant, dull, aching sensation that may worsen periodically.
While not officially categorized as a neuropathic pain disorder, experts agree that fibromyalgia is linked to malfunctioning neurotransmitters, neurochemical imbalances, and other neuropathic conditions.
Along with muscle pain, fibromyalgia can cause:
- Excessive fatigue despite a full night’s sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances that may mimic other disorders, such as restless leg syndrome
Individuals with fibromyalgia often have other chronic pain issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic migraine headaches, and arthritis.
The link between rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia
It’s not exactly clear why, but research confirms that individuals with certain conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than those who don’t have inflammatory arthritis. This is especially true for women, who are more often diagnosed with fibromyalgia than men.
Furthermore, genetics may play a role in both conditions, since a family history of either increases your risk factors. Experts also believe that the chronic pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritic conditions may cause your nerves to overact to certain stimuli, which is an underlying factor in fibromyalgia.
When you have rheumatoid arthritis along with undiagnosed fibromyalgia, even if your rheumatoid arthritis treatment is successful, you may mistakenly assume any continuing symptoms are still due to inflammatory arthritis rather than fibromyalgia. A treatment strategy that addresses both conditions can relieve your symptoms and restore your mobility.
For an accurate diagnosis and relief from chronic pain, book an appointment online or over the phone with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.