Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis – A Cognitive Comparison

Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.

Research conducted on patient suffering from Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis showed that cognitive impairment symptoms in Fibromyalgia were severe compared to that of rheumatoid arthritis. Patients who suffered from Fibromyalgia suffered from memory loss and were unable to concentrate on basic task at hand. They also struggle with numbers and are unable to perform basic math. That part gives us the basic understanding of what Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis causes. Next, we are going to compare these two diseases for better understanding of what causes them, their symptoms as well as the cure*.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where by the body immune system that is responsible for protecting the body from foreign substances mistakenly attacks the joints. Once this happen, there occurs and inflammations that make the tissues in the joint to thicken, resulting to swelling in the joints. This swelling creates a chronic pain around the join because synovial; a fluid responsible for lubricating the joint is thickened.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

In the initial stages, it is hard to see the swelling around the joints and the redness, however with time, these conditions are visible. Here are the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:

  • The most obvious one is joint pain- there is tenderness and stiffness in joints for 6 weeks or longer
  • More than one joint is affected
  • Morning stiffness especially during the morning hours.

These symptoms my come and go and as the intense of the disease increases*, the following symptoms may be seen:

  • In eyes, there is pain, dryness as well as sensitivity to light
  • The mouth becomes dry and the gum irritates
  • There is lung inflammation and this can lead to shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of blood vessels
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis


Fibromyalgia is caused by the abnormalities on the brain processes and pain signals. This disease is characterized by chronic muscle pain. This illness is characterized by fatigue, pain as well as other symptoms. Fibromyalgia can lead to depression as well as social isolation.

To address the cognitive impairment in Fibromyalgia patients, the researchers compared the symptoms of Fibromyalgia with that of rheumatoid arthritis. The results showed that the symptoms of cognitive impairment were worse in Fibromyalgia compared to that of Rheumatoid arthritis.

Cognitive Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

The research found that there was a state of clouding of conciseness in patients this was termed as fibro fog or brain fog. This state was worse in Fibromyalgia patients compared to that of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Brain fog incorporates difficulties in using a language, memory loss as well as difficulties in learning. The symptoms usually tend to descend in fog manner around the patients and hence its name.
In both Fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis brain fog effect is common. This condition mostly ranges from mild to severe and it can vary from person to person and from day to day. Below are the symptoms of brain fogs:

Fibromyalgia info

1. Directional Disorientation – patients with this condition tend to lose* their ways in the surroundings. They don’t recognize familiar surroundings and hence have hard time remembering where they keep their regular items in their day to day activities.

2. Poor Recall Ability And Word Use – patients have difficulties in recognizing words they already know and the names they often use. They tend to use incorrect words in sentences. Their short-term memory is greatly
affected and they therefore tend to be forgetful and they can recall what was previously heard or read.

3. They Cannot Multitask – the patient suffering from brain fog cannot focus on more than a single task. They do one thing at a time and when distracted, they tend to forget the initial task they were handling.

4. Lack Of Focus – they are often confused and they have trouble in processing information and concentrating.

5. Difficulty In Numbers – mostly common in Fibromyalgia patients. They find it very hard to perform basic math that involves additions, subtraction, multiplication as well as division. They fail to recall the numbers.

Apart from the above, Fibromyalgia patients have more challenges compared to those of Rheumatoid arthritis. They tend to have issues with their r ability to process a language. They cannot hold a steady conversation and cannot express their thoughts; this is because they find it difficult to get a word to use in a conversation.


Fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis patients are faced with some kind of special demands. Due to the fact that they have to cope with pain and fatigue each and every day, they need have to adjust to healthy lifestyles in order to meet the demands of fibromyalgia as well as rheumatoid arthritis.

This doesn’t have to make the patients slaves to this illness, with information given; it is now easier to handle the condition now that you have information.



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Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.