If you’re experiencing stiffness in the joints, muscle pain and fatigue, you could be suffering from either polymyalgia rheumatica or fibromyalgia. These two inflammatory disorders are often confused. However despite sharing similar symptoms, they differ in nature, cause, diagnosis, treatment and other factors.
Know the difference between Polymyalgia and Fibromyalgia to seek the right treatment…
Polymyalgia vs Fibromyalgia: Symptoms
Both polymyalgia and fibromyalgia are both pain conditions. General practitioners who are unfamiliar with the conditions may have trouble distinguishing one from the other.
With polymyalgia, you experience stiffness in the neck, shoulders, arms and hips, particularly after you have rested for a while.
Similarly, fibromyalgia also lead to stiffness in the same parts of the body, accompanied by muscle pain. However, these are not its only symptoms. Fibromyalgia patients suffer from painful tender points which are specific to fibromyalgia. They also experience difficulty with sleeping, tiredness and mental fuzziness.
Polymyalgia vs Fibromyalgia: Causes
Polymyalgia and fibromyalgia are thought to be genetic in nature. However, polymyalgia is diagnosed more often in certain seasons, pointing to the fact that it is environmental in nature. On the other hand, fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed after a prolong period of severe physical or emotional stress due to an injury, an illness, a traumatic period or event such as an accident or death of a loved one.
Polymyalgia vs Fibromyalgia: Demography
Polymalgia is usually diagnosed in seniors above 65 years of age and cases of under 50 years of age are extremely rare. On the other hand, fibromyalgia can exist in all age groups, ranging from children to adults.
Both polymyalgia and fibromyalgia are more common in women than men. The ratio of women to men affected by polymyalgia is 2:1 while ratio of women to men affected by fibromyalgia 4:1.
Polymyalgia vs Fibromyalgia: Diagnosis
Polymyalgia can be diagnosed with blood tests, MRI or ultrasound and giant cell arteritis tests. But in the case of fibromyalgia, there are no lab tests that can confirm a diagnosis. A physical examination of tender points is used to diagnose fibromyalgia. Your doctor may also choose to perform blood tests to rule out certain conditions with similar symptoms.
Polymyalgia vs Fibromyalgia: Medication
The first line of treatment for polymyalgia, a condition due to stiffness and pain, is corticosteroids such as prednisone for pain relief. However, fibromyalgia treatments may be a combination of pain and fatigue relief. For this, your doctor may recommend painkillers like ibuprofen or Tylenol and an antidepressant to improve sleep.
For both conditions, medication is not the only approach doctors take. They will also recommend lifestyle and diet changes and exercise to prevent further symptoms from recurring.