RA vs. Fibro -how do I tell the diference

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1flwrchild
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/16/2010 8:13 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi all,
I was diagnosed with RA & Fibro in Feb. and always thought most of my symptoms were from the RA.  But I've been posting alot on the Fibro forum. because my Dr. said at my last ckup that he felt alot of the symptoms I was experiencing right now were due to Fibro.  I'm still a little confused on how to tell what pain is which.  I know everyone is different when it comes to the pain but if I could get some kind of basic idea it would sure help. If I remember correctly blush I think my dr. said that the muscle weakness and tenderness was fibro & joint swelling is more RA.  Is it that basic or am I forgetting something? sad    HELP!
Thanks,
Deb wink

lucysgd
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Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 663
   Posted 9/16/2010 9:22 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Deb - great question and I hope others with both problems will chime in, as I'm still trying to figure out the answer myself.  I think the main difference has to do with inflammation.  Fibro is not supposed to cause inflammation like RA. 
 
I was dx'd with fibro many years before the inflammatory problems emerged.  I was certain the "new" pain and malaise symptoms were different, but I don't have big red hot joints,  so it took some time to sort it all out.   There are times I'm still not sure which thing is causing what.   In a prolonged flare, the doc may run labs to check your inflammation factors for clues.  I have heard it said that Prednisone will improve RA symptoms and make fibro symptoms worse.   But I have also had flares in which both were involved (after stress and travel) .... and that makes it tough to decide what to do.  Especially if you're too tired to think straight!
 
Good luck - I'm sorry about your dx's - but you're not alone.
Lucy

nasalady
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Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 1176
   Posted 9/16/2010 11:33 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Deb (and Lucy),

I'm not a doctor, so all of this is just from my experiences or my imperfect understanding of my rheumy's explanations. I too have both RA and fibro; it seems that fibro causes pain in soft tissues around joints and elsewhere in the body while RA causes more pain in the joints. RA can cause damage to joints while fibro does not. RA is also starting to cause nodules on my fingers, even though I'm on prednisone and Imuran. I take Lyrica and Cymbalta for the fibro.

Generally the "weirder" symptoms: tingling, cramping, numbness in toes, feet, fingers, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light and sound, headaches, etc., etc. are likely due to fibro. Exhaustion too is a hallmark of fibro; although people with RA tire more easily than the average healthy person, it's not usually that same "crash and burn" sort of exhaustion that fibro sufferers experience.

All of that being understood, I would like to suggest that you both be tested for Lyme disease. Particularly because you've been diagnosed with both fibro AND RA. If anyone is diagnosed with fibro plus one or more autoimmune diseases they should test to see if they have Lyme disease. Lyme disease is already a huge problem in this country, and is still increasing. Many Lyme disease tests end up as false negatives, so you might actually want to see a Lyme-Literate doctor (LLMD for short). The Lyme forum here on Healing Well can help you find one close to you if you are interested. Lyme can both mimic and trigger fibro and autoimmune disease....and very few doctors know much about it. Most of them think that 21-30 days of doxycycline cures Lyme disease. Boy, I WISH that was the case!

A year ago I was told by an online friend to test for Lyme disease since I had developed 3 new autoimmune diseases plus fibro in less than 2 years. I thought it was ridiculous (I'm not the outdoorsy type!) but I finally went ahead and did it (just to shut her up) and SURPRISE! I DO have Lyme disease! Plus 3 of the co-infections! :(

Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now, and wish both of you the best of luck! And I hope that neither of you has Lyme disease!!

JoAnn
Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Bartonella, AIH, Hashimoto's, lupus, fibro, RA, celiac, asthma, psoriasis, adrenal fatigue, pre-diabetic, Raynaud's, hypertension, osteopenia, sleep apnea, RLS, GERD, DDD, severe lower back pain, cubital tunnel, tarsal tunnel, Suprax, Mepron, Alinia, Zithromax, Prednisone, Imuran, Plaquenil, Lyrica, Cymbalta, Levothyroxine, Liothyronine, Atenolol, Cozaar, Zyrtec, Fosamax, Albuterol, Prilosec

autoimmunediseasesgfliving.blogspot.com

JayBespoke
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 297
   Posted 9/17/2010 1:12 AM (GMT -7)   
If it is my joints, I blame inflammatory arthritis. If it is my muscles, I blame Fibro. Both cause fatigue but with a slightly different character, RA is a worn-down exhaustion/tiredness, where fibro has a nauseating inability to focus.... for me, at least.

There was about 15 months between my Psoriatic/Rheumatoid arthritis dx and my fibro dx - and as such, can usually instinctively identify which is which. Fibro pain to me feels as though I've pulled a muscle, or more specifically, every muscle.

1flwrchild
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/17/2010 7:11 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi all, thanks so much for your responses.  Wow, that all makes complete sense to me now.  idea Lucy, I am on prednisone for my RA and now that I think about it, it does kinda seem like my Fibro type symptoms got worse since I started taking it.  And Stress, ha, that's been my middle name for the last 4 1/2 yrs.  JoAnn, I get it when you say the "weird" symptoms.  I've had alot of visual & crash and burn symptoms for about the last 6 wks.  I unfortunately can't take Lyrica or Cymbalta.   I never thought about being tested for Lyme disease, wow!  I'll mention it to my rheumy on my next visit.
Jaybespoke, I like the way you narrowed it down.  After thinking about my symptoms it seems as though I definitely have a mix of both.  swollen ,warm wrist joints, and the worn down exhaustion.(RA)  But then I have constant pain all over my body, back, legs, shoulders, neck, difficulty with vision.  (fibro) shocked What the heck!!
I went to a physical therapist today and after I told him all my problems and symptoms he almost hesitated working with me because he wasn't sure WHAT I was going to be able to do. sad That's not a good sign. Oh well, all I can do is do my best.
You guys are awesome!
Stay positive,
Deb

JayBespoke
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 297
   Posted 9/19/2010 6:12 AM (GMT -7)   
Hey Deb,

What are you taking for the Fibromyalgia then? I just take 25mg Amiltriptyline every night, and for the first 3 weeks it did really help, but it feels as though it's wearing off now. I'm quite skeptical towards Lyrica, as it has a bit of a bad press surrounding it, but then again, none of the Fibromyalgia meds are really effective, largely because there's so many contrasting theories as to what causes the pain.

Some people think it's abnormal mitochondrial function, which means we cannoy process nutrients etc from our food into ATP, which is basically energy in a form that muscles use to contract. Other's have suggested it's neurological and results from a sudden decrease in Pain Threshold (i disagree with this one completely, since arthritis etc, my pain tolerance has significantly improved, It's had no choice!)

There's even credence to the theory that Fibromyalgia is a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system in the hypothalamus, which makes a lot of sense to me, given the nature of Fibromyalgic pain and the role endocannabinoids play in our experiencing muscular pains, and fatigue. (They control alertness to an extent, appetite and pain, amongst other things).

I've just ordered this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0443069360/sr=8-28/qid=1284896848/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1284896848&sr=8-28&seller= "Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Practitioners Guide to Treatment", it is $80USD, but looking at the depth of the material, I think it will be worth it!

take care
21, Male, England.
Dx: Psoriatic Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Dyspraxia
Rx: 50mg Etanercept (Enbrel) Sub-Cut Injection, 7.5mg MTX, 25mg Amitriptyline

Oh, and plenty of Tramadol, Dihydrocodeine, Domperidone, Hydroxyzine, and Scotch

Contact: facebook.com/ jabutler // burnley219 (at) googlemail.com (Anti-spam)
Feel free to contact me for any reason, unless you're in sales!

1flwrchild
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/19/2010 4:06 PM (GMT -7)   
 Jaybespoke,
I'm taking plaquenil 200mg. 2x daily along with 5mg. prednisone 1x a day.  I tried the Lyrica & it made me feel agitated. The cymbalta gave me intolerable headaches.  I'm trying to maintain with what I'm on now due to the fact that I don't want to take anything that's too threatening to my immune system.  Have to be careful with that because of my history with breast cancer.   My rheumy and I are still trying different combos to see what works best for me. 
The information you have on that book looks interesting.  I'm going to check into that.
Thanks,
& Stay positive,
Deb :-)
DX:Fibro, RA, Degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel, ulnar tenndinitis, bulging discs (L4 & L5), osteopenia, depression & Breast cancer survivor.
MEDS: femara,neurontin,ativan,plaquenil, prednisone,percocet,fluoxetine
vit.& supplements:black cohosh, even.primrose oil, vit.C, calcium w/D, turmeric, green tea extract

Nana Monster
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 920
   Posted 9/19/2010 6:22 PM (GMT -7)   
Nasa.....it's good to hear from you and I'm glad you're still kicking. Haven't heard in a while so I got worried.

Jay.....be careful of the amitriptolyne as my hair fell out from it. I was growing for a donation to Locks of Love and
noticed much fallout. I stopped taking it and finally donated 2 1/2 feet which took me 5 years to grow.

Flower.....I too have both fibro and RA. I've had the RA for nearly 50 years and the fibro was diagnosed around
10 years ago. I'm pretty sure the flu shot is what brought mine on as I never had any symptons until I got the
shot. I'm not sure about you, but I'm very highly chemical intolerant. The joint pain, swelling, popping and crunching
with hot spots are the RA symptons. Sore muscles and spasms are the mainstay of the fibro. The pain got to the
point with the fibro that it felt like someone crushed me into a ball and threw me on the floor, then it passes only
to hit again. I also noticed over the years with the RA that it felt like if someone touched me the bone would
fall into pieces. That started about 5 years after I started with it so I was around 13 or so.

Nana Monster

1flwrchild
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/19/2010 6:55 PM (GMT -7)   
That's interesting nanamonster about the flu shot.  I've received flu shots for the past 20 yrs at least.  The one year I didn't and I was sick with the flu for 2 wks. 
I've never heard of flu shots being a contributor towards fibro. hmmmm I'll have to do some homework. thanks,
Stay positive,
Deb
DX:Fibro, RA, Degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel, ulnar tenndinitis, bulging discs (L4 & L5), osteopenia, depression & Breast cancer survivor.
MEDS: femara,neurontin,ativan,plaquenil, prednisone,percocet,fluoxetine
vit.& supplements:black cohosh, even.primrose oil, vit.C, calcium w/D, turmeric, green tea extract

Nana Monster
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 920
   Posted 9/19/2010 7:12 PM (GMT -7)   
Flower.....I'm just the opposite, I get them and get severely sick. I was out of work for a week with my last one.
I'm so glad they repealed the mandatory shots for healthcare workers. Even though I work in the kitchen I have to
have them. Luckily, I have it on file that I'm allergic to the darn things. Again, with me it's the mercury and detergents
used in the shots that set me off. I find it's all in how you look at life that keeps you going.
NM

JayBespoke
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 297
   Posted 9/20/2010 5:01 PM (GMT -7)   
Nana, you must have had very long hair! I wasn't warned of any hair loss, and fortunately, amitriptyline has caused absolutely *no* side effects, which I find quite remarkable... but yeah, it is definitely wearing off now. Woke up this morning for work and it felt like I'd pulled every muscle in my body, I could barely walk! I was 5 and a half hours late!

Deb, you do have more options re the Fibromyalgia, off the top of my head, on top of Amitriptyline, Prozac and pregabalin have both been shown to be effective. Amitriptyline mostly helped with the insomnia, but at least for a while, I noticed a big difference in pain. Until then I had been using Tramadol, but now it makes absolutely no difference, I'm just taking a maintenance dose these days because of withdrawals (due to the frequency/time i've been taking it, it's unavoidable). I have recently found somewhat of a (temporary) miracle cure, but I can't discuss it here as it would be forum rules ;)
21, Male, England.
Dx: Psoriatic Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Dyspraxia
Rx: 50mg Etanercept (Enbrel) Sub-Cut Injection, 7.5mg MTX, 25mg Amitriptyline

Oh, and plenty of Tramadol, Dihydrocodeine, Domperidone, Hydroxyzine, and Scotch

Contact: facebook.com/ jabutler // burnley219 (at) googlemail.com (Anti-spam)
Feel free to contact me for any reason, unless you're in sales!

Nana Monster
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 920
   Posted 9/20/2010 6:23 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Jay,
Yeah, my hair was mid calf...the longest I've ever had it. I'm growing it again and want to donate once more before
I turn 60. It's just down to my butt and it's only been 3 years. When I got it cut I couldn't make a pony tail it was so
short.

I need to get back on my herbals especially the Super Cissus RX and Bio-Sil. I've been in a lot of pain as there is
another hurricane building. Hurricane season is the worst time of year for me with all the changes in barometric
pressure. Kills the joints. I've heard from many people with arthritis that this is when they hurt too. Weather patterns
definately affect the joints.

Nana Monster

nasalady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 1176
   Posted 9/20/2010 10:26 PM (GMT -7)   
Nana Monster said...
Nasa.....it's good to hear from you and I'm glad you're still kicking. Haven't heard in a while so I got worried.


Hi Nana, thanks hon! Nice to hear from you too!

I've been pretty sick lately so I don't log in to Healing Well for a while when I'm really down for the count. But I'm still here!

Wonderful idea, donating your hair....longest mine ever was I could just sit on it. I'm growing mine out again too and donating to Locks of Love has been an idea at the back of my mind ever since my daughter Robin did that when she finally cut her hair a few years ago. You gave me motivation to keep on growing for a while! It's only to mid-back right now, but it grows fast!

Take care,
JoAnn
Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Bartonella, AIH, Hashimoto's, lupus, fibro, RA, celiac, asthma, psoriasis, adrenal fatigue, pre-diabetic, Raynaud's, hypertension, osteopenia, sleep apnea, RLS, GERD, DDD, severe lower back pain, cubital tunnel, tarsal tunnel, Suprax, Mepron, Alinia, Zithromax, Prednisone, Imuran, Plaquenil, Lyrica, Cymbalta, Levothyroxine, Liothyronine, Atenolol, Cozaar, Zyrtec, Fosamax, Albuterol, Prilosec

autoimmunediseasesgfliving.blogspot.com

Nana Monster
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 920
   Posted 9/21/2010 11:06 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Nasa,
The best thing I've found is Futurebionics Hair Skin and Nails. It's a brown bottle with a purple top so don't be fooled
by other brands. I've put on over 10 feet of hair in the 15 years I've been taking it. It grows fast and healthy. I don't
color or blow dry my hair so that is another strain off of it.

Sorry to hear you've been sick. Hope you're feeling better soon God Bless and take care of yourself.

Nana Monster

1flwrchild
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/21/2010 9:36 PM (GMT -7)   
Jaybespoke- I actually do take Prozac ( fluoxetine). It's the generic form.
I started taking it before I even was diagnosed with Fibro,( shortly after I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. hmmmmmmmm Can you build up a tolerance to it?
Deb :-)
DX:Fibro, RA, Degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel, ulnar tenndinitis, bulging discs (L4 & L5), osteopenia, depression & Breast cancer survivor.
MEDS: femara,neurontin,ativan,plaquenil, prednisone,percocet,fluoxetine
vit.& supplements:black cohosh, even.primrose oil, vit.C, calcium w/D, turmeric, green tea extract

JayBespoke
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 297
   Posted 10/6/2010 3:32 PM (GMT -7)   
I don't think you could call it a tolerance in the traditional sense, but it's effectiveness can decrease with time, much like Amitriptyline, another (older) anti-depressant. I'm pretty sure I don't get any benefit from it any more.

take care
21, Male, England.
Dx: Psoriatic Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Dyspraxia
Rx: 50mg Etanercept (Enbrel) Sub-Cut Injection, 7.5mg MTX, 25mg Amitriptyline

Oh, and plenty of Tramadol, Dihydrocodeine, Domperidone, Hydroxyzine, and Scotch

Contact: facebook.com/ jabutler // burnley219 (at) googlemail.com (Anti-spam)
Feel free to contact me for any reason, unless you're in sales!
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