Affecting from one to five percent of Americans, mostly women, fibromyalgia is a condition that is widely misunderstood by both physicians and patients. Far more than the widespread pain and magnified pain, fibromyalgia can cause significant health problems. Fibromyalgia interferes with the lymphatic system and contributes to lymphedema. The trigger point muscle contractions can make arthritis worse by pulling bones out of alignment. There are dozens of co-existing conditions that can explain what damage fibromyalgia can do.
Fibromyalgia Is Real
Researchers including neuroscientist Frank Rice from Albany (NY) Medical College found that fibromyalgia patients have more nerve fibers that line the blood vessels than others. This is a physical proof that the disease is not in the patient’s head. The fibers control blood vessels’ contraction and dilation in response to cold or heat. They also move nutrients to muscles during activity and perhaps the explanation of the typical exercise intolerance.
Reasons for the Pain
A 2013 study was published by Integrated Tissue Dynamics, LLC that reported fibromyalgia patients had excessive sensory innervation because of Arteriole-Venule Shunts (AVS) in the palms of fibromyalgia patients. The study concluded that the AVS explained the severe pain and tenderness in an fibromyalgia patient’s hands.
No one is yet certain what causes fibromyalgia. Some think past stress may play a role. Rheumatologist Richard Chou, an assistant professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in New Hampshire, believes that perhaps the nerves have been damaged by the immune system.
Anne Louise Oaklander and her team at Massachusetts General Hospital have produced multiple studies. They believe that small fiber peripheral neuropathy can co-occur with fibromyalgia with an underlying cause like hepatitis, diabetes or an immune response. Others believe that nerve damage follows fibromyalgia instead of preceding it.
Studies are being done more and more on this elusive disease to find out what triggers it, how it manifests in the body and what can be done to treat it. Sufferers of fibromyalgia should talk to their doctor and a professional at Scher Law find out what recommendations they have as well. Hopefully with more time and research we will be able to pin down the mysteries of fibromyalgia.