Difference btwn FMS and Rheumatoid Arthritis???

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by deniset524, Jun 24, 2003.

  1. deniset524

    deniset524 New Member

    I have been experiencing what I thought were FMS symptoms for close to 3 years now...all of a sudden, the joints in my hands hurt, and the doc is checking for rheumatoid arthritis...has anyone experienced anything like this??? Other than the tender points, what are the differences?? Any help would be appreciated - I'm leaving for vacation on Saturday, and am ashamed to say, I feel too tired to go on vacation...how ironic is that? I would love to wake up one morning, feeling refreshed and ready to start the day...thanks for any info...Denise
  2. shazz

    shazz New Member

    what did it say?
    Mine is positive, consistantly, and each time is higher.
    But the rheumy swears I do not have RA.
    Although one of the joints in my hand has been giving me the what for lately. I go in again today, and will discuss it with him. RA is a degenerative disease and actually destroys your joints, so I hope this isn't the case for you.
    FM is probably the cause of your fatigue, I know it is mine.
    Also my pain moves, one day it's my joints hurting, the next my muscles. It's all so confusing.
    I also can't stomach the thought of a vacation about now.
    I have a trip to Cancun Scheduled in October and am wondering if I will make it or not.
    Keep the faith, and I gotta agree it would be nice to wake up one morning rearing to go!!
  3. catgal

    catgal New Member

    Hi Denise~~I'm 54, was born with severe asthma/allergies & IBS, have had FM/CFS since my teens, as I got older I developed osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and then rheumatoid arthritis in my hands, neck/shoulder area. Three years ago I was diagnosed with advanced degenerative disc disease {DDD} with 3 discs completely gone, herniated discs, bulging discs, nerve damage in my neck & spine, a shattered vertebrae, pinched nerve/disc problem in my neck/shoulder area, and multiple other back problems.

    The R.A. factor may not show up in your bloodwork in the early stages of the disease. It didn't in mine until mine had progressed. But as it progresses--you WILL KNOW the difference between FM, other types of arthritis, and R.A.

    I have had R.A. now for several years in my hands, neck/shoulder area, and it is extremely painful and very debilitating. The intensity & progression of R.A. differs with individuals, so if you have it--you may never have it as badly as I do--just like I don't have it as badly as some people I know.

    But it has been my experience that the pain is different than FM, and R.A. can make you feel very tired, weak, feverish, and with a deep, excruciating pain in your muscles & joints. Again, symptoms & intensity can vary, so I will share with you how my R.A. affects me.

    On bad days, my hands will swell up like puff pastries, turn beet red in the knuckle & joint areas; feel hot from the inflammation in them and like they have fever in them; have a deep, hard, excruciating pain, and I cannot bend my fingers or hands. It hurts to touch them. They burn like a red, hot fireball of pain, and they are very, very weak--no strength in my hands whatsoever. I cannot button my shirt, pull up my pants, put on my socks, brush my hair, hold a toothbrush/or ink pen/or steel eating utensil/etc. My Rheumatologist and other R.A. Specialists tell me that the medications developed to treat R.A. are harmful to the rest of the body, so using those are a last resort. Instead, we use the potent narcotic pain relievers that I use for my back problems--oxycontin, 10mg percocet, soma, and Bextra (anti-inflammatory). On these bad days, these meds will ease the pain, but not eradicate it. I also soak my hands several times a day in epsom salts/peroxide/baking soda and several drops of pure, high quality eucalyptus oil in water as hot as I can stand it. Then, I generously rub Tiger Balm into my hands and massage them for a while. I've tried all different kinds of OTC & prescription creams and ointments, but for me Tiger Balm works the best on any part of my body that aches/hurts. After that, I have a pair of ventilated R.A. gloves that work like a heating pad. And then all I can do is lay back, watch a movie (can't hold a book to read), and do the meds/soaking/balm/massage routine every 4 hours. As my R.A. has progressed over the years, I have also developed knots/spurs on my fingers/joints, and my fingers look crooked. On the bad R.A. days, I also feel very, very tired; cranky; I'm in pain as opposed to aching, sometimes feel feverish, sleepy, and my arms feel shaky, weak, and hurt. There is a significant difference to me in my R.A. pain and its affects as opposed to how I feel with FM.

    For the R.A. in my neck/shoulder area, on bad days I use the same protocol except I use a towel soaked in the soaking solution until the towel cools off, then repeat several times; massage in Tiger Balm, and use a shoulder size ThermaCare Heat Wrap on my neck/shoulder area which will maintain heat for around 8 hours--or I just use a regular heating pad with a dry washcloth between the Tiger Balm and heating pad. Like my hands, my neck/shoulder area will swell up till I look like The Hulk, turn beet red, feel hot from the inflammation, can't turn my head or move it up & down, feel a deep, excruciating pain, and it hurts to touch the inflammed area.

    On regular days, my hands, neck/shoulder areas ache, feel weak, and I have difficulty picking up & holding heavy objects. However, I can dress myself, get around, write, type, and do pretty well as long as I don't put alot of strain on my R.A. areas. However, I work 3 days a week and have to bend my neck/shoulder area and hold an ink pen to write my paperwork which takes a couple of hours, and by the end of the day my hands and neck/shoulder area are inflammed, swelled, red, hot, and hurt. And my back is killing me also.

    The only way I can describe an R.A. FLARE is to say I wish someone would just put me out of my misery. Nothing but morphine shots will ease the pain, and I am totally incapacitated.

    Changes in weather, changes in the seasons, too much physical strain on the affected areas, overdoing it, doing things I shouldn't do (like trying to mow the yard), not giving the affected areas adequate rest & treatment, and caffeine can bring on a bad R.A. day or flare.

    Though in the early stages of mild R.A. there are some mutual symptoms of FM--as R.A. progresses there is a significant difference in R.A. and FM effects.

    I sincerely hope you do not have or ever get Rheumatoid Arthritis. FM--FM/CFS is enough to cope with. Blessings to you, Carol....

  4. coyote

    coyote New Member

    The joints of my hands hurt also. Some of my knuckles are swollen and red. The rheumy says I have osteoarthritis, but other parts of my hands hurt also...like between the knuckles on my hands. He also says that thumb joint pain is typical of FM.
    Take your pick.........
  5. jann1033

    jann1033 New Member

    I hope this goes to the right person. I just read your reply and truly wonder if you should see another DR. about it. My mother and a number of my friends have RA and none, I repeat none, have ever been told they should go with out the RA meds...in fact some are developed to help stop the progression of deterioration (from what I was told )and so should be given obviously before it occurs. Maybe I misunderstood what you meant. I know some of the old meds had pretty horrendous side effects but I don't think that is the case so much anymore.
    Also you mentioned some symptoms and said they were from Ra. Personally I have CFS and most of them I have had since it's inception....(no RA,Tested anumber of times due to my family history). and definitly not to be testy... and there is a lot of variation in any disease but... it sounds like you are kind of down grading CFS(or maybe Fm depending on if they are the same which of course depends on who you listen to on any given day). I thought it was interesting in an Australian study that in a sickness impact profile only terminal cancer and stroke scored higher than CFS. I know as bad off as my Mom is, she is better off than me as far as disability. so Ra is bad but so is CFS.
  6. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    If one has FMS long enough, one will develop osteo arthritis. It hurts like the RA, but there isn't the inflammation and joint disfiguration.

    He says that when the body runs out of soft tissue to store the phosphate debris we cannot excrete through our kidneys, it will start storing these crystals in the joints causing OA. He says that even on the Guai protocol, the damage in the joints is permanent.

    My rheumy diagnosed me as having OA in my hands and knees and I just accepted that I would have the swelling, pain, and stiffness which I had been suffering from. Lo and behold! After about a year on the Guai, these symptoms started to go away. I wrote to Dr. St A's nurse, Claudia, and she told me that same thing happened to her. She believes that a lot of the pain of OA is from the tissue surrounding the joint and that the Guai helps with that.

    Love, Mikie
  7. Achy-shaky

    Achy-shaky New Member

    The difference to me is that joint pain from FMS moves from joint to joint, however, if a particular joint(s) starts to hurt all the time you could be developing osteoarthritis (OA) or RA or if in your hand, it could be carpel tunnel. Using a mouse is one thing that really aggravates the carpel tunnel in my right hand. One thing they say about RA is that it usually affects both sides at the same time and is warm/red/inflammed. Either RA or OA can cause disfigurement but if in just one hand, knee, or hip it's most likely OA.

    My knees are warm/inflammed but tests for RA have always been negative but they say that's common if in early stages. One thing that has helped take the edge off my joint pain (and better for stomach than taking NSAIDs) is MSM/Glucosomine. It may take a few months to work but I'm so glad my ortho now prescribes it for me.

    I understand about not wanting to go on vacation...I always say a real vacation is not going anywhere and everyone else leaving (HA!).

    We are all with you waiting on the cure that will let us wake up feeling good.