You ache all over, can’t sleep and your joints hurt like you just went 10 rounds with a sumo wrestler – and lost. As you put more makeup over your ruddy cheeks you wonder – could I have lupus or fibromyalgia?
The answer might surprise you. Lupus patients can also have fibromyalgia, a condition where your joints and tendons hurt, especially when pressure is put on them. So how do you find out if you have a true autoimmune disease or an inconvenient but not life-threatening syndrome called fibromyalgia?
Lupus erythematosis (LE) requires the presentation of at least four diagnostic criteria, the most common of which are a rash on your cheeks, known as a malar rash, a positive antinuclear antibody test (ANA), a positive LE prep and positive anti-DNA antibodies. Notice the lack of emphasis on symptoms such as joint pains, muscle aches, fatigue, sleep problems and depression.
Fibromyalgia can develop in lupus patients, but only AFTER the above serology tests have long been positive. In fact, many poorly trained rheumatologists slapped a diagnosis of LE on people with only a weak positive ANA when they actually had fibromyalgia.
So if you are concerned you might have LE, demand these blood tests, and if NONE of them are positive, focus on finding a cause for your fibromyalgia, such as irritable bowel syndrome, PMS, or even low serum ferritin levels. REMEMBER: THERE ARE NO BLOOD TESTS OR X-RAYS THAT DIAGNOSE FIBROMYALGIA, so save your money and frustration.