Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Lupus & Fibromyalgia: Two Often Misunderstood Conditions

When you are suffering from the condition of fibromyalgia- or fibro- or the condition of lupus, you feel symptoms such as fatigue, overall pain, and just a general feeling of not feeling well.

These symptoms are just part of life. When you have both of them, you get these symptoms doubled- and then some.

Both the conditions of fibro and lupus are often extremely misunderstood and are hard to understand. The problem is their signs and symptoms are often very similar.

Therefore, individuals with the condition of fibro are often diagnosed as having the condition of lupus, and those with lupus are often diagnosed as having the condition of fibro.

Believe it or not, there are lots of individuals who actually have both of these conditions, which can cause complications when it comes to diagnosing and treating them.

Therefore, it is critical that individuals with fibro be familiar with those signs and symptoms of lupus and vice-versa.

What Exactly Is Lupus?

The condition of lupus, also referred to as systemic lupus erythematosus (or SLE) is an autoimmune disorder.

An autoimmune disorder is characterized by a malfunction of your immune system.

Your immune system becomes confused and begins to attack healthy tissues as if they were a dangerous bacteria or virus.

Of course, there are several different forms that the condition of lupus can take on. The truth is that it can attack any part of your body.

However, the most common targets for the condition of lupus are blood, kidneys, skin, heart, brain, and joints.

Just like the condition of fibro, there are options for treatment and controlling the symptoms, but there is no cure for this condition.

In most cases, individuals with the condition of lupus are able to find ways to manage their symptoms and therefore will not face any complications that could possibly be life-threatening.

However, among those that do have specific complications, such as involvement of their kidneys, do have lower rates of survival.

Treatment of the condition of lupus typically involves immune system suppression, which increases their risk of developing a serious infection.

The condition of lupus is characterized by tissue damage, pain, and inflammation. The course of this condition is extremely unpredictable and the symptoms will often come and go in a series of remissions and flares.

While it is true that both the conditions of lupus and fibro do share some of the same symptoms, but fibro is not thought to be an autoimmune system and does not result in tissue damage or inflammation.

Lupus & Fibromyalgia Co-Exist

While it is true that individuals with the condition of fibro don’t seem to be at an increased risk of developing the condition of lupus, individuals with the condition of lupus are at an increased risk for developing the condition of fibro.

However, at this time, medical researchers are not sure why this is the case. One of the possible reasons is that the pain that characterizes the condition of lupus typically leads to central sensitization, which is a primary feature of the condition of fibro.

Still, until medical researchers are able to pinpoint the causes of both conditions, chances are that we will not be able to understand how they are related to each other.

How to Diagnose Lupus

Just like the condition of fibro, the condition of lupus is very difficult to diagnose.

There is not one particular test that can pin it down and since the symptoms vary greatly from one person to the next, it can be quite difficult for a physician to recognize.

Before giving you a diagnosis of lupus, your physician is likely to give you a physical exam, take a look at your personal pattern of flares and remissions, and run tests that will rule out other conditions that have very similar signs and symptoms.

In addition, he or she is likely to perform an antinuclear antibody blood test, called ANA for short.

The ANA test will check for any auto-antibodies in your blood as they are a portion of the body’s autoimmune response.

If the ANA test shows positive or reveals specific patters, your physician is likely to order some addition antibody tests such as:

  • Anti-Smith
  • Anti-dsDNA

If either one or both of these tests shows positive, your physician will most likely give you a diagnosis of lupus.

Therefore, if you have been given the diagnosis of fibro, but you have not been given the ANA test, you might want to request your physician do one in order to rule out the condition of fibro or other possible autoimmune disorders.

Signs/Symptoms of Lupus & Fibromyalgia

As already mentioned, the conditions of fibro and lupus have some signs and symptoms that are very similar, including the following:

  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Anxiety
  • Malaise
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Difficulty with concentration/memory
  • Remissions/flares

However, the joint pain associated with the condition of lupus is accompanied by inflammation and the pain associated with the condition of fibro is not.

On the other hand, some of the symptoms of lupus that are not similar to those of fibro include the following:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Inflammation
  • Seizures
  • Skin lesions
  • Anemia

Lupus and Fibromyalgia

Treating Lupus

Just like the condition of fibro, the condition of lupus is not a “one-size-fits-all” treatment.

After all, everyone is different and will experience different signs and symptoms and will have different results with medications.

Some of the most common treatments for lupus include the following:

  • Antimalarials
  • NSAIDs
  • Steroids
  • Immunosuppresants
  • Healthy diet
  • Reduced exposure to sunlight
  • Stress reduction
  • Quitting smoking
  • Moderate exercise

Of course, you must keep in mind that you’re not going to find the perfect treatment overnight. It is going to require some experimentation to find the right one for you.

Treating Lupus vs. Treating Fibromyalgia

When it comes to treating both conditions, it becomes complicated.

However, you should be aware that as a general rule, the treatments for the condition of lupus typically don’t have a negative effect on the condition of fibro- except for possibly steroids.

Therefore, you should speak with your physicians regarding potential interactions with medications.

On the other hand, the lifestyle changes and the complementary/alternative therapies typically don’t have any negative interactions at all.

Living with Fibro & Lupus

When you are living with one or both of these conditions, it can be quite difficult and most of your life will be consumed with making sure you are healthy.

Therefore, do what you can and do your best to stay on top of current medical research to be sure that you’re treating your conditions the best way possible.

The primary concern should be maintaining your overall quality of life.

Sources:

http://chronicfatigue.about.com/od/whyfmscfsarelinked/a/FMSlupus.htm

http://www.lupusny.org/about-lupus/newsletters/may-june-2005/lupus-or-fibromyalgia-or-both

Comments

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4 Comments

  • Initially, I didn’t know the difference between fibro and lupus since they share many symptoms. Thanks for the clear and precise distinction between the two conditions, at least, I am now aware the difference between the two and how they are connected. I just need one clarification on the possible consequences in case a patient is diagnosed with fibro when he/she actually has lupus and vice versa and what can be done to rectify the situation in case it results in adverse complications. Otherwise, I appreciate your efforts for providing us with a distinction between the two conditions which personally I didn’t know if there exists any difference between the two. This is very informative and thanks for sharing.

  • With fibro and Lupus being very similar where does Polymyalgic Rheumatica fit in. All the symptoms are the same. I have been thru the fibro stage then diagnosed with the PMR some 7yrs ago. PMR also attacks various organs of the body without warning. and is so painful and tiring

  • I have a question when being treated for fibro, what kind of stuff does anyone get as a pain reliever ? It sure seems to be impossible to get anything but tramadol . So frustrating!!!!!!!

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