Any Fibromyalgia sufferer can explain in seconds what the pain feels like. Living with fibromyalgia means coping with a number of symptoms: widespread muscle pain (myalgia), extreme tenderness in many areas of the body, sleep disturbances, fatigue, headaches, and mood issues like depression and anxiety. But how does having fibromyalgia impact your risk of COVID-19 and ability to manage these symptoms while staying at home?
Well, according to an article on Creaky Joints it depends on which type of fibromyalgia you have?
Yes, you read it right, which type of fibromyalgia do you suffer from? As far as I have ever known there has just been one type of fibromyalgia. But apparently there are two types of fibromyalgia, primary and secondary, says Petros Efithimiou, MD, FACR, a rheumatologist who practices in New York City.
Primary fibromyalgia, which is the most common form, is a chronic pain syndrome in which the body and brain process pain and stimuli differently, explains Dr. Efithimiou. Importantly: “There is no immunosuppression.” Basically, in primary fibromyalgia, the causes are not known,
Secondary fibromyalgia, on the other hand, often occurs in patients with conditions that can affect the immune system, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, surgery, or ankylosing spondylitis. In this case, your immune system may be suppressed and you could be considered at a higher risk for COVID-19, especially if you have additional co-occurring health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes.
Knowing the difference is important.
Individuals may believe that fibromyalgia is an immune system illness since they are regularly alluded to and treated by rheumatologists, and a portion of their side effects may mirror those of lupus or other rheumatology patients. Yet, fibromyalgia is certainly not an immune system sickness, which happens when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your own cells and tissues.
Very Well Health points out that finding out if your fibromyalgia is primary or secondary tends to be frequently overlooked or glossed over. If you have been diagnosed with primary or secondary fibromyalgia this does not mean that you are more susceptible to catching Covid-19. However Web MD do point out that if you also have an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, this could put you at more risk which makes it all a bit confusing.
Recent articles just imply that if you do catch Covid-19 and you are also suffering from fibromyalgia you could quite possibly have a flare up of fibromyalgia. But, with so many fibro sufferers living with some similar symptoms to Covid-19 it is important says Very Well Health that “While there is considerable overlap, some of the common symptoms of COVID-19 aren’t associated with fibromyalgia, including:11
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
Being on alert for those tell-tale signs can help you distinguish between your typical symptoms and coronavirus infection.”
A recent survey on Covid-19 and fibromyalgia written on the FMA UK found that indeed all participants reported feeling anxious about the pandemic. Most often, participants pointed to being worried about:
- The impact the pandemic will have on their personal relationships (friendships, romantic, family, or other)
- The possibility of a family member contracting COVID-19
- Financial hardships as a result of the pandemic
Interestingly, the same categories did not necessarily evoke the strongest feelings of anxiety. When rating anxiety on a 0 to 100 scale, where 0 is no anxiety and 100 is the strongest possible anxiety, participants pointed to the following as the most worrisome:
- Financial hardships as a result of the pandemic (average rating of 64)
- Access to medication during the pandemic (average rating of 64)
- Home loss or eviction as a result of the pandemic (average rating of 62)
Most importantly, the researchers found that an increase in COVID-19 anxiety was associated with an increase in reported pain levels. The authors emphasised, however, that this does not imply that COVID-19 anxiety caused fibromyalgia pain. The study demonstrates that mental health in fibromyalgia can be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But beyond being present, anxiety may be directly related to worsening pain.