For decades, fibromyalgia patients suffered in silence as doctor after doctor pronounced “phantom pain” symptoms as purely a figment of the imagination. Now, scientists have uncovered the truth behind fibromyalgia chronic pain syndrome, and as it happens, it has nothing to do with your mental outlook, or your brain. Here are the details of this latest medical breakthrough.
We’ve always known that certain “tender points” on the body that overreact to pain stimuli label you as having fibromyalgia; until recently, doctors have failed to come up for any explanation for excruciating pain and fatigue that stem from no apparent source, no visible injury. But thanks to a recent discovery, scientists understand that fibromyalgia symptoms are caused by having too many blood vessels in your hands.
For millions of Americans, this could mean the end to fibromyalgia stigma, and the beginning of a new era in which fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are labeled as medical illnesses, and not as medical science-fiction.
A new era for fibro patients
It started with a patient who had what could be called the opposite of fibromyalgia, a decreased ability to experience pain, due to a lack in sensory nerve fibers. Researchers compared skin biopsies with patients suffering from chronic pain, and noted that all the fibromyalgia patients’ skin samples showed significantly more nerve fibers than normal, compared to people who don’t have symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Scientists at Integrated Tissue Dynamics LLC hope to use their findings to produce a fibromyalgia cure, by learning more about arteriole-venule (AV) shunt nerve fibers in people diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Neuroscientist Dr. Frank L. Rice, author of the study, described how they came to the conclusion that will ultimately disprove fibromyalgia as a mental condition. “We previously thought that these nerve endings were only involved in regulating blood flow at a subconscious level, yet here we had evidences that the blood vessel endings could also contribute to our conscious sense of touch… and also pain,” Rice said.
“This mismanaged blood flow could be the source of muscular pain and achiness, and the sense of fatigue which are thought to be due to a build-up of lactic acid and low levels of inflammation fibromyalgia patients. This, in turn, could contribute to the hyperactivity in the brain.”
Fibromyalgia symptoms include an overreaction to pain, suffering that is disproportionate to the cause. Scratchy clothing, a morning breeze, or a hot shower can cause immense suffering. Aching joints, sore muscles and constant headaches combine with extreme fatigue to make life unbearable.
For now, fibromyalgia treatments include strong painkillers, anti-epileptic drugs, and antidepressants.
Natural treatments for fibromyalgia include relaxation techniques, light daily exercise, and acupuncture.
It’s noted that many fibromyalgia patients also suffer from comorbid vitamin B12 deficiency. For that reason, supplementing with extra doses of vitamin B12 is highly recommended.
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