How to Tell if it’s Fibromyalgia or Multiple Sclerosis

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Multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia only share some common symptoms but they are totally two different conditions. Various lab tests are required to distinguish these two conditions. Once you need to that which condition you are suffering from only then you can proceed to further treatment plan.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a medical disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly considers the friendly myelin sheath of the nerves as a foreign body and starts destroying it. It is neurological condition in which the myelin sheath of the nerves is destroyed and then the nerves are invaded too destroying completely the function of these nerves.

Symptoms

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis depend on the type of nerves that are damaged and to what extent they are damaged. So different persons experience different symptoms, affected nerves are not able to function properly as the healthy ones. The destroyed neurons are not able to carry the sensations properly so the most commonly encountered symptoms are chronic pain, numbness, tingling sensations and weakness in the affected areas.

Walking difficulty

Unstable gait due to coordination problems is the most obvious symptom. People are not able to walk properly due to altered balance.

Slurred speech

Speech clarity is altered due to breakdown in communication after the destruction of myelin sheath of the neurons. Speech may become slow as well.

Vision problems

Loss of vision can occur due to eye pain. Double vision is also experienced by the patients.

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Management

Many different treatments are available that can help improve the patient’s symptoms. Some of these include lifestyle modifications, OTC medications and some alternative remedies.

Medicines used for pain relief include aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Some other interventions include physical therapy for rehabilitation, speech-language pathology, infused medications such as Lemtrada, injectable medications such as Avonex, oral medications such as Aubagio and some high doses of Solu-Medrol too.

Lifestyle modifications include a regular dose of exercise including stretching. Maintaining a high fiber diet and low fat diet is also important. Whatever treatment plan you are following, any change in your treatment plan must not b made without the prescription of your doctor. Don’t change your treatment plan with your own self medications.

Diagnosis of multiple sclerosis

There is no single test available for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. If other medical conditions have been ruled out by the doctor then MRI may be useful as it will detect the lesions in brain and spinal cord. Spinal tap should also be performed by the doctors. In this procedure a small portion of your spinal fluid will be removed by the doctors and then the doctors will look for antibodies associated with multiple sclerosis in this fluid.

Treatment of fibromyalgia

The OTC medications used for fibromyalgia treatment include acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Acupuncture, massage, yoga and tai chi are alternative treatments available for treating fibromyalgia. Lifestyle modifications include getting enough sleep to minimize the stress levels. Reduce daily caffeine intake. Exercise regularly and adjust your diet according to the treatment plan. Prescription medications include antidepressants such as duloxetine. Anti seizure medications are also prescribed such as pregabalin.

Diagnosing of fibromyalgia

If your doctor is not able to find any obvious reason of your chronic pain, then he will label your condition as fibromyalgia. The pain should have been occurred for at least 3 months. A group of symptoms including widespread pain will be used for diagnosing fibromyalgia, as there is no single test to detect fibromyalgia. Doctors often also use “tender points” to diagnosis fibromyalgia. What this means is that people with fibromyalgia feel additional pain when a doctor applies firm pressure to these sensitive points on the body.

 

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References:

  • Multiple Sclerosis vs. Fibromyalgia: Differences in Signs and Symptoms via Health Line
  • How to Tell if it’s Fibromyalgia or Multiple Sclerosis via Fibromyalgia Treating

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