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Are Arthritis and Fibromyalgia Connected?

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
DAVID MARKS, MD: Hi and welcome to our webcast. I'm Dr. David Marks. Thank you all for sending in your questions about arthritis. We're going to try to answer them today.

Joining me to do that is Dr. Allan Gibofsky, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Cornell, and a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Thanks for helping us out.

The question is from Evelyn Barr. It's about fibromyalgia. "How is fibromyalgia and arthritis connected, and how can they be treated together?"

ALLAN GIBOFSKY, MD: There are a hundred different forms of arthritis, and fibromyalgia is a form of arthritis. Fibromyalgia refers to "achy-ness" of the fibrous tissue of the body. Because the term arthritis is used to refer to aches and pains, fibromyalgia is considered one of the arthritis conditions.

We don't really know what causes fibromyalgia. We're just beginning to learn more about its chemical effects in the body and certain kinds of treatment that may work. But just as every patient with arthritis is an individual, so too is every patient with fibromyalgia. The kinds of things that may cause fibromyalgia in one person may not be the kind of things that cause it in another. Consequently, the therapies for each patient may be different.

That's a long-winded way to say that there is no one treatment for fibromyalgia, just as there is no one treatment for arthritis.

DAVID MARKS, MD: Should a patient try to get his or her doctor to coordinate the care between arthritis and fibromyalgia, if it's possible?

ALLAN GIBOFSKY, MD: I would say that the best person to treat a patient with fibromyalgia is a rheumatologist, who is an internist who is particularly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of muscle, bone and joint diseases. So if a patient is having fibromyalgia, meaning achy-ness of the body, together with joint pain and inflammation, that patient is best seen by an arthritis specialist who can tease out what may be due to fibromyalgia and what may be due to other causes other than the fibromyalgia, which should not go undiagnosed.

DAVID MARKS, MD: Thank you for your questions, and thank you for joining our webcast. I'm Dr. David Marks. Goodbye.

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