Pittsburgh / Allison Park Senior Care Blog

Is it Fibromyalgia or Arthritis - Knowing the Signs to Look Out For

By Erin Carll

Senior Care in Wexford PA

May is Fibromyalgia Education and Awareness Month. Fibromyalgia is a condition many have heard about, but aren’t sure what it really is and who it impacts.

Fibromyalgia is often confused with fibroids, a condition that impacts women, but becomes less of a problem when women reach menopause. In fact, uterine fibroids and fibromyalgia could not be more different. Fibromyalgia has only recently been acknowledged as a legitimate disorder that causes chronic pain in sufferers. In 2015 it impacted approximately 210 million people worldwide. In the US, 80% of sufferers are female; however, men, children, and all ethnic backgrounds can get fibromyalgia.

When adults develop fibromyalgia in their sixties or later, there has been a problem diagnosing them correctly. Research has found that 40% of people over the age of 60 were misdiagnosed as having polymyalgia rheumatica or rheumatoid arthritis, instead of fibromyalgia.

As your loved one’s senior care provider, there are signs you should be on the lookout for. First, you should know that seniors with fibromyalgia present additional symptoms that younger people with the condition may not experience. Younger sufferers with fibromyalgia complain of pain being the most severe symptom of their condition while seniors complain of extreme fatigue and swelling in soft tissue. Seniors are also more prone to develop depression and anxiety, related to fibromyalgia. They also complained more of headaches and tension.

Some of the other standard symptoms of fibromyalgia are:

  • Difficulty sleeping. This can present itself as the sufferer experiencing disturbances of their sleep or problems sleeping.
  • Morning stiffness
  • Numbness/tingling in hands and feet
  • Irritable bowel syndrome, though it’s important to note that irritable bower syndrome is an underlying symptom of many conditions.If you’re loved one has irritable bowel syndrome, you cannot assume they have fibromyalgia
  • Cognitive problems with memory and thinking, commonly known as fibro fog

There isn’t a cure for fibromyalgia. Treatment focuses on treating the symptoms, to give the patient relief. There are a variety of medications that can be prescribed to help alleviate pain associated with fibromyalgia. In addition to medication, patients have tried alternative forms of treatment, like massage, acupuncture, yoga, herbal supplements, to name only a few treatments. If you think your loved one may have fibromyalgia it is important to have them diagnosed by a doctor who can then prescribe the appropriate treatment plan for them.

Fibromyalgia can be managed successfully with the proper diagnosis, treatment, and education. Sufferers tend to improve over time, so a diagnosis of fibromyalgia doesn’t mean your loved one’s quality of life will gradually decrease. As long as they follow their treatment, they can resume living life without pain and fatigue.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring in-home senior care in Wexford, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 201-0712.