Arteritis and Fibromyalgia


Image: Adam Gregor / Shutterstock

Fibromyalgia causes a lot of different symptoms from chronic pain and fatigue to persistent headaches. But there are many different conditions that can cause symptoms similar to fibromyalgia. So, it’s possible that some of your symptoms might actually be caused by other conditions, like arteritis.

Arteritis is a condition where the arteries become inflamed. As a result, it causes many symptoms that can be confused with fibromyalgia. So, what is arteritis? How is it related to fibromyalgia? And what can you do to treat it?

What Is Arteritis?

Arteritis is a term that covers any condition that causes inflammation in the walls of the arteries. There are several different kinds of arteritis based on which arteries are affected and to what extent.

For instance, there is Takayasu’sĀ arteritis, which causes inflammation of the walls of the aorta in the heart. Over time, this inflammation can cause scar tissue to form in the aorta and eventually can lead to heart failure. The expanding walls of the arteries close off the flow of blood and oxygen out of the heart.

Then there’s Giant Cell Arteritis, which is an infection in the arteries that carry blood to the brain. This condition tends to affect women in their fifties and can cause severe headaches and flu-like symptoms.

We don’t know for sure what causes these conditions, but the most likely explanation is that it’s the result of an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is a condition where the body’s immune system begins to attack your own tissue, which leads to inflammation.

Over time, the inflammation from arteritis can damage the arteries until they can’t carry blood effectively. In addition, the condition can damage internal organs as the inflammation leads to scar tissue forming in the kidneys or liver.

And the fact that it’s an autoimmune condition could explain why people with fibromyalgia sometimes suffer from it.

How Is It Related To Fibromyalgia?

We know that people with fibromyalgia suffer from autoimmune diseases at a higher rate than the general population. Some have speculated that this means that fibromyalgia is itself an autoimmune condition. But research has suggested that this isn’t true.

Most people with autoimmune conditions have an elevated level of antibodies in their blood. This is the primary test that doctors use to diagnose these conditions. But people with fibromyalgia don’t have these antibodies, which suggests they aren’t suffering from an autoimmune condition.

In addition, autoimmune diseases cause inflammation, which is the root of arteritis, and people with fibromyalgia don’t suffer from this kind of inflammation.Instead of being an autoimmune disease, it could be that fibromyalgia just makes you more likely to develop one.

And many autoimmune conditions cause symptoms that are very similar to the symptoms of fibromyalgia like chronic fatigue and pain. Arteritis is a good example of this.

Symptoms of this condition include fatigue, chronic pain in the joints and muscles, night sweats, and headaches. All of these symptoms are common in people who suffer from fibromyalgia. So it’s easy to see how not only could having fibromyalgia make you more likely to develop the condition, but the condition could actually be confused for fibromyalgia, especially given how difficult it is to diagnose.

Luckily, if you do suffer from it, there are things you can do to treat it.

How Can You Treat It?

The key to treating arteritis is to limit the inflammation. This helps treat the pain and prevents further damage to the organs, which is a risk. And there are a few kinds of drugs that doctors use to do this.

The first is corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are a hormone that your body produces naturally in response to inflammation. But your doctor can also prescribe synthetic corticosteroids to help your body’s natural healing process.

Secondly, doctors often prescribe a type of drugs called immunosuppressants. Immunosuppressant drugs work by weakening the immune system and limiting the production of antibodies. These antibodies are what attack your tissue in cases of arteritis, so limiting the amount that your body produces can help treat the inflammation.

Finally, there’s something to be said for basic over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen. These drugs are called non-steroidal non-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. NSAIDs work by limiting the production of an enzyme that causes inflammation. And as an added bonus, they can help to limit the amount of pain you experience as a result of the condition.

So do you have arteritis? Do you think it could be related to fibromyalgia? How do you treat it? What works? What doesn’t? Let us know in the comments.