What is the difference between lupus and fibromyalgia?

Lupus and fibromyalgia are rheumatic disorders that share some symptoms and patients can experience them simultaneously. Despite this overlap, lupus and fibromyalgia are different conditions that each patient will experience in their own way. In cases of lupus, the tissues, joints and organs of the patient are attacked by the immune system. People with fibromyalgia may have some symptoms similar to those associated with lupus, but without experiencing inflammation, joint or organ damage, or many of the other complications that result from lupus, including a vulnerability to other infections such as colds, shingles, and pneumonia.

Lupus and fibromyalgia are chronic disorders, but the latter does not cause inflammation or damage to organs and tissues. Fibromyalgia is generally characterized by generalized pain of the muscles, tendons and ligaments, as well as specific tender and fatigued points. The pathology of lupus is better known than that of fibromyalgia, although the specific cause of the condition is still discussed among medical professionals. Unlike fibromyalgia, lupus is an autoimmune disorder characterized by the body’s immune system, which ignites in its own joints, tissues and organs. People suffering from lupus typically manifest some symptoms other than those of fibromyalgia, such as swelling of the joints, damage to the organs and a characteristic facial rash of the butterfly or scaly body rash. In contrast to lupus, fibromyalgia is not progressive and does not make the patient vulnerable to other medical problems or diseases.

Blood and other tests can help a medical professional determine whether a patient has lupus or not. The antinuclear antibody test, the anti-double-stranded DNA test and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate are blood tests that a doctor can order to diagnose lupus. In addition, a doctor may order a urinalysis or a kidney and liver evaluation if you suspect that a person has lupus.

There are no laboratory tests or imaging tests that can confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Doctors who suspect that fibromyalgia often eliminate similar conditions first and test the sensitivity of the 18 specific points of the patient’s body. A patient meets the criteria for fibromyalgia if he is sensitive in at least 11 of the 18 points and has experienced generalized muscle pain for more than three months.

The treatment for lupus and fibromyalgia can differ significantly. Lupus is commonly treated with corticosteroids, antimalarials or immunosuppressant medications. In contrast, antidepressants, analgesics and anticonvulsant medications are typical treatment options for fibromyalgia. Finding a medical professional who is familiar with lupus and fibromyalgia is important for patients seeking a diagnosis.


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