No Medical Proof of Fibromyalgia Symptoms? There is Now!
In the past, there has been no empirical medical proof of fibromyalgia symptoms or that fibromyalgia even exists. Doctors and consultants currently make their diagnosis based on 3 things – Length of time of illness, the patient’s description of symptoms and a lack of evidence supporting any other illness. Perhaps because of this, ‘fibromites’ often experience disbelief from family, friends and even doctors, that their fibromyalgia symptoms are real.
Most sufferers of fibromyalgia will tell you that they have a habit of desperately trying to look OK when they really are not. (Why is that? I do it myself and it causes me all sorts of problems). And because Fibro is an ‘invisible illness’ they face a persistent stigma in the workplace and when applying for much-needed benefits. They are often told that their fibromyalgia symptoms are imaginary, nothing’s really wrong with them and that Fibromyalgia is all in the head! Really? The latest research results disagree (or agree, depending on which way you look at it 😉 )
Widespread Inflammation Found in the Brains of Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Massachusetts General Hospital has been collaborating with the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden to study pain markers in the brain. Together, their completed studies have proven for the first time, that fibromyalgia patients have widespread inflammation of the brain and this can be mapped using MR/PET scan technology
By studying the brains of a control group against the brains of fibromyalgia patients, they found that the degree of brain inflammation in fibro patients is widespread. The degree of inflammation also seems to be directly related to the severity of their fibromyalgia symptoms and fatigue. This study has confirmed earlier research into the theory that fibromyalgia is a central nervous system illness (brain to spine communication). This could be why brain fog, aka fibro fog, is one of the most noted fibromyalgia symptoms
Using brain imaging scans, they have consistently been able to show that the central nervous system’s immune cells, called glial cells, are activated in fibromyalgia patients and thus give rise to inflammation of the brain. Glial cells maintain homeostasis, form myelin, and provide support and protection for neurons in the brain.
“As far as we know, this is the first time it’s been shown that glial cells are involved in the pathogenesis of fibromyalgia,” says co-author Professor Eva Kosek from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet
Glial Cell Activation Causes Inflammatory in the Brain
As the results show, glial cells are activated in large parts of the cerebral cortex in patients with fibromyalgia. And because that degree of activation is also related to the degree of fatigue suffered, it may be an explanation why one of the major fibromyalgia symptoms is chronic fatigue.
In fact, glial activation was found to be present at significantly higher levels in multiple brain areas in patients who had fibromyalgia, compared to those in the control group. Glial cell activation causes inflammatory chemicals to be released, which cause the pain pathways to be more sensitive to pain and promote fatigue. This causes disruption in the central nervous system and communication between brain and spine
“Finding an objective neurochemical change in the brains of people who are used to being told that their problems are imaginary is pretty important,” explained co-author Marco Loggia. He is associate director of the Center for Integrative Pain Neuroimaging at Harvard Medical School. Read the complete news release here…
So What Now?
This is an incredible discovery and great news for fibromyalgia patients. With the publication of this research, sufferers can hope for validation, understanding and belief. My question now is – How do we use this knowledge to get relief for the worst fibromyalgia symptoms? It may take a bit longer to find the answer to that, but this author intends to keep an eye on it
Peace and love
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