Do You Have Fibromyalgia or Psoriatic Arthritis?


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic condition that causes an array of far-ranging symptoms, but the most frequent ones are body-wide pain, tenderness, muscle aches, and fatigue. Clinical studies revealed that those with inflammatory conditions like psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to have fibromyalgia than the general public.

Experts think that inflammatory conditions can make individuals more prone to fibromyalgia because ongoing chronic pain can affect the body’s neurons to become more sensitized and more liable to overreact to various stimuli. 

Fibromyalgia vs. Inflammatory Arthritis

Fibromyalgia and some types of inflammatory arthritis, such as psoriatic arthritis are often confused for each other because their symptoms are very similar in their early stages. Distinguishing their difference is crucial for finding the correct treatment and diagnosis. Both are chronic disorders discernible by causing long-lasting pain to patients.

Inflammatory Arthritis

There are several kinds of inflammatory arthritis, and these include:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Psoriatic arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis leads to inflammation of the surrounding tissues and joints. Also, long-standing inflammatory arthritis may result in joint disability and deformation.


Fibromyalgia affects not only the joints but also tendons, muscles, and other soft tissues in the elbows, hips, knees, chest, neck, lower back, and shoulders. It may develop by itself or along with inflammatory arthritis or psoriatic arthritis.

Symptoms They Both Commonly Share

People with both inflammatory arthritis and fibromyalgia have stiffness and pain in the morning. There are other common symptoms shared by these two conditions, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Diagnosing symptoms

Besides inflammatory arthritis, fibromyalgia has common traits with other conditions, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • HIV infection
  • Lyme disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Depression

Psoriatic Arthritis and Fibromyalgia

A rheumatologist is among those who can effectively ascertain whether you have psoriatic arthritis or fibromyalgia. Individuals with psoriatic arthritis are at a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia.

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that mainly affects people with psoriasis. This inflammatory arthritis frequently causes joint pain with stiffness and swelling. Even though fibromyalgia remains to be a mysterious disease, this condition also causes fatigue and chronic pain in patients. Therefore, if you already have psoriatic arthritis and suffer from unrelenting pain and fatigue, you may have to be tested and screened for fibromyalgia. The two conditions frequently occur at the same time and also share similar symptoms, as mentioned earlier. However, these two require different treatments.

An astute rheumatologist will have no problem differentiating between psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. They have a reputation of almost having a sixth sense about these subjects.

Differences between Psoriatic Arthritis and Fibromyalgia

In addition to pain and fatigue, many patients who have psoriatic arthritis also have other symptoms that are not present in fibromyalgia. These symptoms include the following:

  • A family history of psoriasis
  • Nail psoriasis or psoriasis patches on the skin
  • Tender or swollen joints
  • Swelling of a whole finger or toe often referred to as “sausage digits”

There is no single test to detect psoriatic arthritis. To rule out other causes of joint stiffness and pain, doctors would rely on a combination of these tests:

  • X-rays that show damage from early disease
  • Blood tests that indicate markers for inflammation devoid of any rheumatoid antibodies
  • MRIs or ultrasounds that show inflammation consistent with enthesitis

Screening for FM

Similar to psoriatic arthritis, there is no specific test for fibromyalgia. Your doctor will ask for your detailed medical history. You will have to answer these questions:

  • What symptoms you have
  • How severe they are
  • How long you’ve had them

These symptoms may consist of any or all of the following:

  • Widespread body pain
  • Headache
  • Cognitive issues, known as fibro fog or brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep problems include waking up yet feeling tired.
  • Abdominal pain or bowel problems
  • Restless legs
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  • Frequent urination

Sometimes patients with psoriatic arthritis are on their fourth or fifth rheumatologist before their last doctor finally realizes they might have both conditions. Please keep in mind that an individual with psoriatic arthritis can also have other forms of arthritis. Hence, it is sometimes complicated to distinguish where one condition starts and the other ends.

Care Options for Fibromyalgia and Psoriatic Arthritis

If fibromyalgia goes undiagnosed, it can obstruct the treatment of psoriatic arthritis. The concern is also that if a doctor does not recognize fibromyalgia's existence, he or she might increase the dosage of powerful drugs or change drugs (being used to treat psoriatic arthritis) unnecessarily. Instead, the primary need is for the doctor to start treating fibromyalgia first.

 The first treatment most often prescribed for fibromyalgia is with a non-addictive sleep aid, because fibromyalgia disrupts phase four sleep, which is the deep sleep that's the most restorative and restful stage. To assist in relieving fibromyalgia pain, doctors prescribe medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and muscle relaxants.

Exercise can also help reduce pain and enhance the quality of life for patients with psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. Water exercises such as water walking, water aerobics, and swimming are excellent choices.  It may take three weeks before these activities will stop hurting you.

Fibromyalgia Relief with Upper Cervical Care

A definite link exists between a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine and the onset or escalation of symptoms of fibromyalgia. Stress due to misalignment causes the brainstem to relay improper signals to the brain. If the brainstem dictates the brain that there is pain when there is little or no pain, fibromyalgia can ensue. 

Upper cervical chiropractors use a gentle procedure to assist in getting the neck bones to realign. It will not inflict further pain because it slowly encourages the bones to move, excluding the need to twist or crack the back or spine. Once the correction of the misalignment becomes successful, many patients can report a definite improvement in their symptoms of fibromyalgia. 

Experience fibromyalgia relief from pain and its accompanying symptoms through upper cervical chiropractic care soon. Seek an upper cervical chiropractor in your state.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.