Article on Fibromyalgia Research

I stumbled upon this article about a doctor who has spent practically his whole career studying fibromyalgia and working with fibromyalgia sufferers. It has a good synopsis of how far research has come on fibromyalgia since the diagnosis first started appearing in the 1980s. I know I get frustrated sometimes at the lack of research being done into this invisible disease, but this article is a good reminder that things are being discovered and that our knowledge of this disease has come a long way, even if we still don’t understand so much about it. I won’t post the whole article here but I recommend reading it. Below are the bits I found most interesting.

Fibromyalgia researcher reveals secrets of a painful mystery

(I loved the metaphors he uses to describe how fibromyalgia works, how our brains interpret pain signals. These are probably the best metaphors for fibromyalgia I have heard.

Russell used a metaphor of two radios: One has a volume knob that works, but the other blares even the subtlest sounds as painful screeches. What feels like a touch to most people feels like a poke to people with fibromyalgia.

Researchers found that in the brains of people with fibromyalgia, pain centers lit up if a thumbnail was pressed with relatively minor pressure. The person felt real pain.

Cerebral spinal fluid samples extracted from fibromyalgia sufferers hinted at the processes, Russell said.

Fibromyalgia sufferers typically have three times the normal level of substance P, a pain amplifier, he said. Blocking substance P reduced pain in hands, he said, but not widespread pain. Substance P was one piece of the puzzle.

Fibromyalgia sufferers also have diminished levels of two important brain signaling chemicals, serotonin and norepinephrine. Prozac, a common antidepressant, works by increasing brain serotonin.

About 40 percent of fibromyalgia patients also experience mood disorders, suggesting a connection, Russell said, but Prozac didn’t ease their pain.

Fibromyalgia sufferers were later found to have high levels of glutamate, the main chemical involved in experiencing pain, Russell said.

Also elevated was a chemical called nerve growth factor, which stimulates repair in brain circuitry. That begs the question, Russell said, “Repair from what?”

Brain scans have shown that people with fibromyalgia lose gray matter — home to thought and memory — more quickly than others.

Sufferers of other types of chronic pain experience similar losses in gray matter, he said. The connection between pain and nerve death isn’t clear.

Earlier this year, researchers discovered a gene highly associated with fibromyalgia. It may predispose some people to develop the disease.

6 thoughts on “Article on Fibromyalgia Research

  1. tiredella says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have been trying to find a scientific article describing fibromyalgia, and this is just what I have been looking for

  2. […] Article on Fibromyalgia Research ( […]

  3. Fibro Files says:

    I can almost feel my gray matter deteriorating. I am not the quick thinking (or is that think quicking?) fast talking person I once was. I forget many things told to me according to my family and I can’t recall certain words. It seems a constant and sad letting go of who we once were and what we can do. My older daughter was upset cause I could not carve the chicken properly – I guess I forgot to tell them all I have carpal tunnel in both hands and wrists! On a brighter note it is sunny here in my warm house and I am enjoying my green tea and browsing the web. Have a good week ahead.

  4. […] Article on Fibromyalgia Research ( […]

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