Q: Do fibromyalgia symptoms include foot and hand pain? I have such persistent pain in my thumb that it's difficult for me to write, and both my feet hurt when I put any weight on them. My hands and feet used to be the only parts of my body without persistent pain. Now this. Can you explain this?

A: Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by persistent pain throughout the body. The pain is usually felt in the muscles and soft tissues. The joints themselves do not show signs of arthritis such as pain and swelling. Fibromyalgia can occur together with another form of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

The prominence of your foot and hand pain suggests that arthritis, rather than fibromyalgia, may be – but is not necessarily – the cause of your pain. Foot pain can be caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis, which is the irritation of a band of soft connective tissue that spans the sole of the foot. Planter fasciitis can be associated with fibromyalgia. It is important that you get a full medical evaluation to determine the precise cause of your pain and to begin treatment, because treatment for other arthritis- related diseases is different from that for fibromyalgia.

David Pisetsky, MD, PhD, Rheumatologist