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Arthritis and Rheumatism

Fibromyalgia, RA and OA

05/14/2007

Question:

My rheumatologist is checking me for Fibromyalgia now. I already have RA and OA. I have 20 tender places. But I was off my Enbrel for one week due to a cold. What is the differnece between RA and Fibromyalgia.

Answer:

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is considered a disease, whereas Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is considered a syndrome. RA is considered a disease because there appears to be a clear pathophysiologic disturbance in the body. The hallmark pathology is characterized by an attack targeted towards the lining of certain joints.

In contrast, FMS is described as a syndrome because it is a constellation of associated symptoms without the presence of a hallmark pathologic process. Some of the associated symptoms in FMS may be generalized pain, fatigue, irritable bowel symptoms, or others. In RA, treatment is geared towards controlling the pathologic process, often with disease-modifying or biologic agents. In FMS, treatment is geared towards symptom reduction.

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Response by:

Raymond  Hong, MD, MBA, FACR Raymond Hong, MD, MBA, FACR
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University