Psoriatic Arthritis and Fibromyalgia
I have to admit. I’m. So. Confused. Which, more often than not these days, seems to be a perpetual state rather than a temporary inconvenience. I have questions without answers and lost hours reading and researching. I’ve learned the subtle difference between causation and correlation. In fact, I feel like I’ve learned a whole new language. The language of fibromyalgia.
You see, in addition to psoriatic arthritis (and rheumatoid for that matter) I’ve now also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Given the fact that autoimmune conditions seem to “collect,” at first I (wrongly) assumed that fibromyalgia was just another autoimmune condition. However, it is not.
After a conversation with my rheumatologist, she made it very clear that current research suggests that psoriatic arthritis has a correlative relationship with fibromyalgia, rather than a causative one. Having psoriatic arthritis made it “more likely” that I would also have fibromyalgia, rather than one “causing” the other.
Correlation between PsA and fibro
Correlative means that psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia are often found together. They are more likely to “co-exist” meaning that your chances of having both diseases are higher. It is not clear yet why this is the case, simply that it is. But the relationship between fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis is not causative. Meaning that one ailment does not “cause” you to develop the other. Having PsA did not cause me to develop fibromyalgia or vise versa.
Differences between psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia
After all, when it comes to pain, it can be difficult to tell the differences between psoriatic arthritis disease activity and fibromyalgia symptoms. Both can cause fatigue, decreased range of motion, numbness or tingling, and obviously pain. In my experience, having a great doctor really makes all the difference.
My rheumatologist explained that my extreme sensitivity to touch was a clear indication for her. I complained that my children had seemingly overnight become all knees and elbows. Every time they wanted to sit on my lap or climb up for a quick hug, I found myself cringing in pain, anticipating the sharp jabs of little knees and feet.
How can I differentiate the symptoms?
Honestly, there were a few days when it felt like even the fabric of my clothes hurt. I suppose it was then that I began to learn that this pain was different. This pain, for me at least, feels different than the deep, hot pain of PsA. When I began to really look at the surrounding circumstances and nuances of the pain, it became a great deal easier to separate out what was PsA and what was fibro.
The upside of fibromyalgia (if it can be called that) compared to PsA is that unlike PsA, it doesn’t cause permanent damage to the body. Yes, it is painful. Yes, it is even debilitating. But the general consensus is that fibromyalgia is not a progressive disease in the same way that psoriatic arthritis is. Rather it tends to be more cyclical with times of flares and times of calm. Looking back, equipped with the knowledge and experience I have now, I can see where different aches and pains deviate between PsA pain and fibro pain.
Living with both conditions
There is a whole world to explore now. There are new medications to manage and symptoms to track. Most importantly, I hope to discover how the language of fibromyalgia fits into my psoriatic arthritis world. If you find yourself in the same boat as me, I’d love to know any tips you have for making the best of this new world. Together I think we can find our way.
How do you plan to recognize PsA Awareness Month?