I have written an article before on #backpainbloguk about Polymyalgia Rheumatica which my sister was diagnosed with a few years ago but both Polymyalgia Rheumatica and #fibromyalgia keep popping up together so I decided to look into what the difference in between these two conditions.
Healthline wrote an article on this about the similarity with some of the symptoms.
When you have Polymyalgia Rheumatica you feel pain and stiffness in the muscles in your shoulders and upper arms (shoulder girdle) and hips (pelvic girdle). This feeling often comes after you’ve spent time resting, and is most severe upon awakening from sleep.
#Fibromyalgia can also cause muscle pain in the same parts of the body. But it’s more wide-spread and the pain is more severe. People with #fibromyalgia tend to experience other symptoms as well, which include tiredness, trouble sleeping, memory problems, bowel and bladder problems.
Both polymyalgia and fibromyalgia may cause depression related to living with a painful chronic condition.
According to the Mayo Clinic, older adults, usually over age 65, are more likely to be diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica. It’s rare in people under age 50, but anyone can get #fibromyalgia at any age. But it tends to be more common in women than in men.
It is possible for a person to have both Polymyalgia and fibromyalgia. Polymyalgia Rheumatica is an inflammatory form of arthritis. Fibromyalgia does not show traditional signs of inflammation, though some recent research from 2017 suggests it may also involve inflammation.
Blood tests can usually diagnose Polymyalgia, however, no single test can determine if a person has fibromyalgia, instead a physical exam that looks for specific tender points may be used. A doctor may also take blood samples to rule out inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory condition that causes many painful muscles (poly= many, myalgia = muscle pain). Any muscles can be affected, but it mainly affects the muscles of the shoulder and thigh.
PMR can start at any age from 50 but mainly affects people over the age of 60. Women are affected 2–3 times as often as men and it affects about 1 in 2,000 people.
If you have polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) you’ll usually have severe and painful stiffness, which is often worse in the morning, especially in your shoulders and thighs and usually affecting both sides. PMR often strikes suddenly, appearing over a week or two and sometimes just after a flu-like illness.
The symptoms are quite different from the ache you may feel after exercise. The pain and stiffness is often widespread, is worse when resting and improves with activity or as the day goes on. However, it may also wake you at night.
Other symptoms include:
- feeling unwell
- a slight fever
- weight loss
- overwhelming tiredness
- feeling low, anxious or depressed.
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is sometimes associated with painful inflammation of the arteries of the skull. This is called giant cell arteritis (GCA) or temporal arteritis and needs prompt treatment as there’s a risk of damage to the arteries of the eyes. About 20% of people with PMR also develop GCA, while 40–60% of people with GCA also have symptoms of PMR.
The symptoms of GCA are:
- severe headaches and pain in the muscles of your head
- tenderness at your temples
- pain in your jaw, tongue or the side of your face when chewing
- pain or swelling in your scalp
- blurred or double vision
My twin sister was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis in her early 40’s and had he thymus glad removed then given immunotherapy treatment and thankfully, it is now in remission but a few years ago she was also diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica. I would love to find out what and if there are any connections between all these conditions with me also suffering from Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome. It seems odd that both of us have suffered from these sort of conditions. Unfortunately, our Mum died in her early 50’s due to a heart condition and the only other condition she suffered from was Fibrositis which is what Fibromyalgia was called back in that day.
Does anyone else have it in their families?
Polymyalgia and Fibromyalgia both end in ‘myalgia’ which is pain in a muscle or group of muscles.
According to Healthline the two conditions are similar in some ways as Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Fibromyalgia are both musculoskeletal conditions with some symptoms that are hard to tell apart.
Pain from Polymyaliga Rheumatica is pain and stiffness in the muscles specifically in your shoulders/upper arms (shoulder-girdle), and hips (pelvic-girdle). The pain often comes after you have spent time resting and especially when you first wake up from a sleep. Pain from Fibromyalgia can also be pain in the muscles in the same parts of your body as Polymyalgia but it’s more wide-spread and the pain can me more severe in Fibromyalgia. Symptoms also include tiredness, trouble sleeping, memory problems, bowel and bladder problems.
How to tell the difference between these two painful disorders can be quite hard? Your doctor may want to conduct a number of tests to make a diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica, including blood tests that look for an inflammation marker, imaging tests such as X-rays or ultrasound and checking for a condition called giant cell arteritis (biopsy). Diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be more difficult to achieve. No lab/diagnostic test exists that can accurately confirm a diagnosis. Your doctor may try to first rule out conditions with similar symptoms through blood tests, but a doctor more knowledgeable about Fibromyalgia is always helpful.
Both conditions give a lot of pain and using what you know about your condition to seek support from family, friends, co-workers, and your doctor. Taking steps to manage your specific symptoms can bring a feeling of control as well as relief.
Putnams is a family run manufacturing business based on the outskirts of Plymouth, who are leaders in back care and have been manufacturing comfort solutions for over 30 years.
During this time they have expanded their range of pain relief products for everyday use, in the car, office and home. Their aim is to improve your posture, comfort and quality of life.
Putnam products are used and recommended by the medical profession, are available through specialist outlets in Great Britain, and exported across the world.
They also have back care advice and lots of products that help with pain. I personally use their mattress toppers and coccyx cushions and have done for years. In fact I have one which I leave at my sisters in Spain so that when we go on holiday I can be as comfortable as being at home.
My sister suffers from Polymyalgia which has flared up recently and she was really suffering with the pain during the night so when I recently left Spain I told her to try my topper. She just could not believe the difference and said she has had the best sleeps she has had in years since she has used it, so it’s not just helpful for back pain but for other ailments as well.