Fibromyalgia, myasthenia gravis and ankylosing spondylitis – any relationship?

Question

my father has had myasthenia gravis for app. 50 yrs., my older brother was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis app. 10 yrs. ago, and i was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 2 yrs. ago–is there a correlation of these diseases? also, is fibromyalgia considered an autoimmune disease? Lastly, i saw a show about an experimental stem cell surgery for back pain–is there currently any experimental (or otherwise) surgery for AS?

Answer

HI Vickie,

No there is no known relationship genetically or otherwise among these three diagnoses.  And, no, fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disease.  It is a chronic pain syndrome primarily affecting the bones, joints and muscles.  It is thought to be due, at least in part, to defective pathways to inhibit pain.  So, pain is activated normally but it doesn’t stop because the inhibitory pathways aren’t active enough. 

Joan Bathon, M.D.

About Joan Bathon, M.D.

Dr. Bathon was a Co-Deputy Director of the Division of Rheumatology at Hopkins Bayview. She was also the founder and director of the Hopkins Arthritis Center.