Both fibromyalgia and polymyalgia can run in families. In other words, having certain genes can increase your risk for developing either disease. This is true of many diseases. Studies by the Mayo Clinic show polymyalgia is more frequently diagnosed in certain seasons. This suggests that something in the environment, such as a virus, might play a role. Some researchers believe that it is caused by the adenovirus respiratory infection.
No one is completely sure of the causes of polymyalgia though. It is thought by some to be related to rheumatoid arthritis, while others believe it is actually a genetic disorder. Another possible cause or factor is an autoimmune disease. As previously stated, polymyalgia may result from an autoimmune disorder in which white blood cells attack the lining of the joints, causing inflammation.
Some illnesses and infections, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders can cause fibromyalgia as well. Post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional or physical traumas can trigger it as well. So while both diseases display many of the same conditions and issues, they differ in their origin, onsets and triggers.
A Closer Look
Since fibromyalgia and polymyalgia have some similar symptoms and often run along a parallel course even though they do differ, exactly how is a proper diagnosis determined and what are the steps towards help for each of the conditions?
There are some tests and factors that can assist your doctor in determining whether or not you are dealing with polymyalgia vs fibromyalgia. Your role in this process is very important as we mentioned form the outset. Keep track of your symptoms, your environment when there is a worsening of conditions, and flare-ups and frequency as well as duration of symptoms.
Once you meet with your doctor, they may want to conduct a number of tests to make a diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica, including:
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests such as MRI or ultrasound
- Monitoring for the condition of giant cell arteritis
Below are some details concerning the type of tests that you may undergo when a doctor has a suspicion that you may be suffering from polymyalgia rheumatica.
Your health care provider will perform two blood tests to confirm the diagnosis:
Sed rate is a measure of the time it takes your blood cells to fall to the bottom of a test tube; referred to as erythrocyte sedimentation, blood cells fall faster when exposed to inflammation. A fast reading could indicate polymyalgia rheumatica. Those with polymyalgia have a high sed rate while that of a fibromyalgia sufferer is usually normal.