Monday, January 21, 2019

How is lupus and fibromyalgia alike?

November 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Critical Illness Cover

Question by Jo: How is lupus and fibromyalgia alike?

my niece has lupus and I have firbomyalgia. Our pain is so alike, but her treatments are totally different.
Are they kin – the lupus and the firbomyalgia?
thank you and have a blessed day.

Best answer:

Answer by Believer
Lupus and fibromyalgia are two common rheumatic conditions. Do you know the differences between lupus and fibromyalgia? There are specific symptoms, distinguishing characteristics, as well as overlapping symptoms associated with lupus and fibromyalgia which determine the diagnosis and course of treatment.

Systemic lupus erythematosus, also commonly referred to as lupus or SLE, is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease. Lupus can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, nervous system and other organs of the body. Lupus symptoms often resemble symptoms associated with other types of arthritis, making lupus difficult to diagnose. Lupus affects 10 times more women than men. Though lupus can develop at any age, disease onset usually occurs between the ages of 18 and 45 years old.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by body aches, widespread pain, sleep problems, extreme fatigue, depression, anxiety, and other symptoms, in combination with tenderness of specific areas (muscles and tender points) on the body. Fibromyalgia is a type of soft tissue or muscular rheumatism and does not cause inflammation, joint damage or deformities.
There are 2 qualifications for a Fibromyalgia diagnosis. The first is a history of at least 3 months of widespread pain that occurs both above and below the waist as well as on both sides of the body. The second diagnostic criteria is 11 of 18 tender points causing pain when gentle pressure is applied. Fibromyalgia is often mistaken for a Lupus flare, but blood tests can help distinguish them.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!


3 Responses to “How is lupus and fibromyalgia alike?”
  1. ladyanguissette says:

    I have both lupus and fibromyalgia, so it’s also possible to have them both at the same time.

    I’ve had several doctors state that they feel fibromyalgia is a “junk” term and there is a movement among many doctors to discredit fibromyalgia as an actual illness. I’ve had other doctors insist on removing the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, insisting that my earlier diagnosis of lupus would cover the chronic pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia.

    So, let me start off by saying that, clearly, there is a great deal of disagreement about fibromyalgia within the medical community. Personally, I’ve done better with doctors who treat both of these illnesses seriously.

    Let me begin by discussing both of these illnesses: Lupus is an autoimmune disorder – meaning quite simply that one’s immune system attacks his or her own body rather than foreign entities. As such, lupus is generally treated with either steroids, anti-malarial drugs and/or immuno-suppressive drugs. In extreme cases, chemotherapy is used. The side effects of these treatments can range from annoying to severe (and life-threatening). There is a growing movement to find non-toxic ways of dealing with lupus. is excellent at dealing with this issue.

    Lupus is often progressive and can be life-threatening. During the 1950s, the overall survival rate was 50% within 10 years. Even today, deaths related to lupus or not that uncommon (remember Charles Kuralt a few years back). A diagnosis of lupus requires a large checklist of symptoms which must routinely be present – though they are rarely all present at the same time and very few people ever have all of the symptoms on the list. Most often, there is a strong focus on both lab work and clinical observation to reach this diagnosis. As such, it can take years or longer for a diagnosis of lupus. I personally had my first symptoms in high school but wasn’t diagnosed until I was 25 – when it started severely affecting my kidneys and could have killed me.

    Many physicians, when testing for lupus, rely entirely (or almost entirely) on one particular blood test – referred to as the ANA test. The problem with this is that many people with lupus do not consistently have a positive ANA test and one study showed that roughly 20% of all lupus patients NEVER have a positive ANA. This is why it’s so critical, when you or your doctor suspect lupus, that the entire check-list is gone over in detail. The lupus foundation has guidelines for diagnosing lupus – both with and without a positive ANA test.

    Fibroymalgia is a condition which defined by chronic, debilitating pain and exhaustion but otherwise a physician cannot find anything physically wrong. As a result, fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed when other illness are completely ruled out. In my case, the severity and location of the pressure points are what caused me to receive that diagnosis even with a diagnosis of lupus. Though fibromyalgia is often disabling, the good news is that it is not a progressive illness and is not life-threatening – nor is it considered an auto-immune disorder. This is why your treatments vary so greatly from your niece’s.

    Not to throw a wrench into the discussion as you didn’t mention this, but one thing I think you should is that there has been some attention about the wide-spread mis-diagnosis of fibromyalgia in patients (usually women, as about 90% of both lupus and fibro sufferers are women) who actually have lyme disease. There was even a famous case in California about 1-2 years ago about an HMO telling it’s physicians to diagnose fibromyalgia when lyme disease was suspected as there is no lab test for fibromyalgia – which would be cheaper than running the tests for lyme disease. This might have flown off my radar but I have since met women who have lyme disease and were originally mis-diagnosed years ago with fibromyalgia. It may be worth you looking into. Any Google search of both “fibromyalgia” and “lyme disease” will turn up many stories. In addition, many people with fibromyalgia also have myofacial pain syndrome (MPS) – the treatments of which can vary from the treatments strictly for fibromyalgia. I’ve read that many doctors, when the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is given, do not look into the possibility of MPS as well.

    I hope this has helped. In the meantime, you might also want to check out:

    Take care.

  2. Clark Kent says:

    Far more important than the cause and reasons behind fibromyalgia is figuring out how to treat fibromyalgia. As important as those answers really are, for people with fibromyalgia, feeling better is really what matters in their day to day lives. The symptoms of this painful disease are often the cause of lost time at work, problems maintaining normal personal relationships and horrible depression caused by the pain as well as the damage to the normal workings of a life. While researchers continue to look for the causes of this disease and better ways to treat it, there are things you can do to improve your situation or that of your loved one with fibromyalgia.

    * Take care of yourself
    * Follow doctor’s instructions
    * Get fibromyalgia support


  3. Linda R says:

    Both are autoimmune diseases. Some medical professionals are leaning toward the idea that there is one disease-autoimmunity but that it shows itself in different ways. There are around 80 autoimmune diseases.

    The essential difference with lupus is that it can cause permanent damage to any organ in the body. So the treatment focuses on minimizing the symptoms, which are different from patient to patient, and preventing long term organ damage.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!