Waking up with unbearable pain all over the body is a horrible way to start a day. Unfortunately, if you have either rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia, there is a fifty-fifty chance that you will experience this every single day. To cope, you definitely need to know which of the two conditions you have (or if you have both). This will help you seek the right professionals for help, like a fibromyalgia chiropractic practitioner, physical therapist, or rheumatologist.
Can you distinguish which is which? What are the hallmark signs of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia? And how can they impact your day-to-day schedule? Join us in our discussion below as we get to know the difference between the two leading causes of pain among American adults.
Fibromyalgia vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Debates on whether fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis are the same continue until today. That’s because they share several similarities, such as fatigue, lack of sleep, and body pain. Some studies even theorize that fibromyalgia stems from an autoimmune problem, similar to rheumatoid arthritis’s root cause. So to help you distinguish these two painful conditions, let’s check out some facts:
- Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that most likely stems from central sensitization.
- Rheumatoid arthritis traces its origins from an immune system malfunction that causes your cells to attack and damage tissues near the joints.
- Fibromyalgia doesn’t cause joint damage or cause a spike in the levels of inflammatory hormones in the bloodstream.
- Fibromyalgia causes tenderness in specific points in the body, while rheumatoid arthritis impacts joints like your wrists, fingers, vertebral bones, and ankles.
- Conversely, rheumatoid arthritis, especially chronic cases, can lead to neuropathy because the swelling can impinge on nerve roots.
- Around 2 percent of the US adult population have fibromyalgia, while about 0.24 to 1 percent have rheumatoid arthritis.
- People diagnosed with fibromyalgia often have rheumatoid arthritis or vice versa.
- Both diseases share similar risk factors such as stress levels, lifestyle choices, and obesity.
Getting an Official Diagnosis is Helpful
If you’re confused about the condition or symptoms you experience, we highly recommend getting diagnosed by your primary doctor. You may need to undergo blood tests, MRI scans, X-rays, and other diagnostic procedures to pinpoint the possible explanation behind your pain.
Then, once you have an official medical diagnosis, your physician can recommend appropriate measures. For example, your doctor might prescribe pain medications and steroids if you have rheumatoid arthritis. Meanwhile, if you test positive for fibromyalgia, you might get prescriptions for general pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and anti-depressants.
Besides taking necessary medications to manage your symptoms, you might also find it helpful to practice certain lifestyle adjustments, such as:
Limiting your alcohol intake
Alcohol intake among patients with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis is highly discouraged by doctors. That’s because alcohol can negatively interact with medications and cause severe liver problems. Excessive alcohol consumption can also trigger inflammation in the gut–a risk factor that can aggravate rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Getting enough bedtime rest
Quality sleep can be elusive for people with chronic pain disorders or autoimmune diseases. Unfortunately, without enough sleep, your symptoms can worsen and cause more problems. Try working with a professional or make adjustments to your sleep hygiene.
Smoking cigarette causes adverse effects to various parts of the body, including your joints, bones, and cardiovascular system. Studies claim it can also aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms and cause cognitive problems like poor concentration and memory retention.
Aiming to maintain an active lifestyle
It seems impossible to maintain a physically active lifestyle with fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis because of the pain. However, doctors highly recommend doing a basic exercise routine to keep the joints, muscles, and bones in good condition.
Exercising also helps release natural pain killers like endorphins. There are many low-impact exercises you can try, such as swimming, brisk walking, and yoga.
A Fibromyalgia Chiropractic Doctor Can Help
It’s hard to cope with everyday work or personal tasks when you have fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis. You might have days when you can’t get out of bed without wincing in pain. Thankfully, you can try natural remedies like fibromyalgia chiropractic care.
Upper cervical care is a holistic and integrative approach to healing the body and eliminating pain. It focuses on restoring the balance in your spinal column–a critical factor in reducing risks for chronic disorders like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
The upper neck bones are the main focus of an upper cervical chiropractor because they can easily get dislodged after an accident or a forceful extension of the neck. Unfortunately, when they move from their original place, your C1 and C2 bones can easily disrupt signal transmission between your nervous system and other parts of the body.
The cervical bone misalignment can also impact the brainstem, which regulates several body functions such as your sleeping cycle, digestion, and blood pressure regulation.
Thankfully, with the help of an upper cervical chiropractic practitioner, you can address the bone misalignment and begin your healing process. Regardless of whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia, upper cervical care may come in handy because studies show a strong link between these diseases and cervical spine health.
If you haven’t found a way to manage or cope with your symptoms, we suggest trying upper cervical chiropractic adjustments. With ample adjustments to your neck bones, you can slowly restore your spine’s curvature and experience significant differences in your condition.
It’s time to start holistically approaching your chronic pain disorder or systemic inflammatory disease. Talk to a fibromyalgia chiropractic practitioner near you to learn more about a life-changing pain relief option today!