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Image by ADAMFibromyalgia does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues. Therefore, it is not a disease of the joints but is arthritis-related. Fibromyalgia is considered a syndrome because it is a set of signs and symptoms occurring together. About 5 to 7 percent of Americans are affected by fibromyalgia, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association.

Image by ADAMRheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory type of arthritis. The joints are primarily affected by the disease, but there can be systemic effects (i.e. organs) as well. Rheumatoid arthritis affects over 2.1 million Americans and about 1-2 percent of the world population. Early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and early, aggressive treatment can help prevent joint damage and deformity.

Fibromyalgia can occur as a primary syndrome characterized by muscular pain or as a secondary syndrome to other rheumatic diseases. It is possible to have fibromyalgia syndrome as well as another rheumatic disease. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or ankylosing spondylitis are at increased risk of also developing fibromyalgia syndrome.

How can people with both fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis know which condition is causing their pain? Is there a best course of treatment for people who have both fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis? We asked rheumatologist Scott J. Zashin, M.D. to explain, Fibromyalgia v. Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain - What Factors Determine Treatment?

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