Fibromyalgia and certain types of inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, are sometimes confused because their symptoms mimic one another in early stages.

Distinguishing between the two is essential for getting the proper diagnosis and treatment. Both are chronic disorders marked by long-lasting pain.

There are several types of inflammatory arthritis, including:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • lupus
  • psoriatic arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. Long-standing inflammatory arthritis can result in joint deformation and disability.

Fibromyalgia affects not only joints, but also muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues in the elbows, hips, chest, knees, lower back, neck, and shoulders. Fibromyalgia can develop alone or along with inflammatory arthritis.

People with fibromyalgia and inflammatory arthritis both have pain and stiffness in the morning. Other common symptoms shared by the two conditions include:

  • fatigue
  • sleep disturbances
  • decreased range of motion
  • numbness or tingling

Tests to distinguish fibromyalgia and inflammatory arthritis include X-rays, blood tests, and ultrasound. Besides inflammatory arthritis, fibromyalgia also shares common symptoms with several other conditions. These include:

  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • cancer
  • depression
  • HIV infection
  • hyperthyroidism
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lyme disease