RA & Fibromyalgia

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that most typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect your whole body with fevers and fatigue. – Mayo Clinic definition


Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help. -Mayo Clinic definition


 

RA has always been a large part of Steph’s life. she grew up as a kid thinking that it was normal to have pain in her toe joints, elbows, knees, ankles and finger joint. it obviously wasn’t, as things got worse when she was about 15/16 years old. Now, most of her synovial joints are affected. joints affected include:

  • both shoulders, elbows, wrists
  • 7-8 finger joints- primarily MCPs, and both CMC joints
  • both hips, knees, ankles
  • foot joints like TMT joints
  • toe joints such as 1st, 2nd and 5th MTPs and 1st PIPs
  • enthesitis in the knee, achilles tendon
  • bursitis and tenosnynovitis in several areas
  • and a bad back- crazy erector spinae, ?sacroilitis, and a once brusied coccyx

she was finally diagnosed in 2007, when she was 17. they told her she had juvenile RA progressed into adulthood.

the drugs she has been on for RA include:

  • Methotrexate(MTX)
  • Hydroxychloroquine(Plaquenil; HCQ)
  • Sulfasalazine(SSZ)
  • Leflunomide(Arava)
  • Etanercept(Enbrel; biologic anti-TNF agent)
  • Prednisolone
  • Etoricoxib(Arcoxia)
  • Celecoxib(Celebrex)
  • Piroxicam
  • Sulindac
  • Diclofenac
  • Tramadol
  • Muscle relaxants (Orphenadrine, Eperisone)

she used to be on triple-DMARD therapy, but is no longer on any RA treatment.

with RA she struggles with pain, stiffness, fatigue, loss (she had to give up ballet once RA invaded her hips), and constant transaminitis. it also feeds into the cycle of depression, which frustrates everyone, including me.


 

Steph was diagnosed with fibromyalgia(FM) in 2014, after she had relentless “psychosomatic pain” that couldn’t be relieved by analgesia. She mainly suffered a lot of pain in the upper and middle back, which was unusual because those were areas which were uninjured and uninvolved with RA. She saw a pain specialist, and with treatment, she felt like she was a new person again.

now, she is treated with:

  • Pregabalin (Lyrica)
  • Eperisone (Myonal)
  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin/Targin)
  • Tramadol
  • Trigger point injections
  • Nerve blocks
  • Sacroiliac joint injections
  • Intra-articular injections

again, now with FM on top of RA, she struggles mostly with pain and fatigue.


 

there is not a day Steph is physically feeling well, but she has learnt to live with it. she is 25 and has had pain for 25 years. she could get used to some of it, right? pain demands to be felt, yes. but pain also strengthens a person’s soul. she tries every day to turn pain into love.


 

Why i closed the door
On why RA has made things complicated with my parents, and why i’m paying for everything medically-related.

6 Comments

6 thoughts on “RA & Fibromyalgia

  1. I have RA also, although symptoms only started about 3 years ago (in my 40s). One simple thing I found that helps is ‘contrast baths’ where I soak my hands in hot water for 30 secs, cold 15 secs and so on for several cycles. Start and end with hot water. It is amazing!

  2. Hi Steph, I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog; it’s very rare it find somemone of a similar age who also has RA and mental health issues. I was finally diagnosed at 16 and am currently 24 so I understand your battle all too well.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say hi :).

    ~ Laura x

  3. Hi. While surfing about how useful/useless Arcoxia and Anarex are for my degenerative spondylosis and fibromyalgia, I came across your blog. I am 40 and have been suffering from both since my teenage years. Can totally empathize and relate to what you are going through. The years for trying to prove to people there is indeed something wrong with my body. The years of doubt creeping in that maybe they are right and there’s nothing wrong with me. The years of trying every kind of medication/treatment under the sun and moon to alleviate the pain. The years of insomnia and fatigue from falling asleep and waking up to pain.

    Yet, life goes on. Its not easy but having a positive outlook and thankful on days when its less painful helps. Be strong. Live well..

    • Hi Danny

      I’m sorry to hear that you suffer from rheumatologic conditions too. I agree with you, and like you i try to stay positive, stay strong and live as best as i can. I try to see my RA as a gift actually. I wish the best for you too.

      xoxo

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