Do I Have Fibromyalgia or Lupus?

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Differences in Fibromyalgia and Lupus Pain

While it may be difficult to identify, there are slight differences in pain areas for those with fibromyalgia and lupus. Usually, those with fibromyalgia have generalized pain throughout their body. In addition, there are pressure points around the body that are sensitive to the touch. With lupus, most of the pain is in the joints and muscles, and specific areas don’t necessarily hurt to the touch. However, because both diseases have pain in the muscles and joints, it may be difficult to determine if your pain is related to fibromyalgia or lupus.

Sleep Loss

While both lupus and fibromyalgia can result in disrupted sleep, there are some differences in the problems. With fibromyalgia, you’re likely to see long-term sleep loss. Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia deal with insomnia or aren’t able to get a good, full night’s sleep. This happens over long periods, with very few nights of restful sleep and is unrelated to pain. Those with lupus who also suffer from sleep loss generally have trouble sleeping specifically because of the pain. Insomnia is not necessarily a symptom of lupus, but more of a side effect of the other symptoms. With fibromyalgia, long-term sleep loss is considered a symptom.

Tissue Damage

One of the important differences between lupus and fibromyalgia is tissue damage. Those with fibromyalgia do not suffer from tissue or bone damage due to their disease. Lupus, an autoimmune disorder, causes the body to attack the tissue and bones directly, causing damage and inflammation. This leads to even more long-term problems, including arthritis and loss of bone density. If your doctor notices that there is tissue damage around your pain areas, it’s more likely that you have lupus than fibromyalgia. To date, fibromyalgia has not been proven to cause any long-term damage or arthritis.

Skin Irritation

People with fibromyalgia may suffer from skin irritation when the skin is touched. This sensitivity, however, does not usually result in an actual rash. This pain is generally associated with nerve endings becoming overly sensitive. On the other hand, those with lupus get raised red patches and other rashes that develop across their bodies. These rashes may be on the cheeks, arms, and other areas. In addition, many with lupus have a reaction to sunlight, called photosensitivity, which can cause a new rash to appear or make already-occurring rashes worse. If you get regular rashes as well as pain throughout your body, make sure to consult with your doctor.

While many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia and lupus are very similar, it’s crucial to note that the differences are what make the diagnosis important. These two diseases are treated very differently. Some individuals with one disorder may develop the other; however, this is very rare.


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