Sometimes it may seem all of the new findings, investigations, and studies in medicine can be far too much for the average person to keep track of.
Fortunately, specialists across the medical landscape know the advancements in research that are available to them, and are constantly diving deep into research that may help solve patients’ medical problems.
New research and a study from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, have shown that many of the symptoms in fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) are caused by antibodies that increase the activity of pain-sensing nerves throughout the body.
So is fibromyalgia an autoimmune problem?
Fibromyalgia So Far
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) affects at least one in every 40 people worldwide (80% women) and is characterized by widespread pain throughout the body, as well as fatigue (‘fibro fog’), and emotional distress.
The currently held view is that fibromyalgia originates in our brain — Researchers have always believed that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way the brain and spinal cord process painful and non-painful signals.
Symptoms of FMS include:
- Increased pain sensitivity.
- Muscle weakness.
- Reduced movement.
- A reduced number of small nerve fibers in the skin.
Published recently in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the study showed these symptoms are actually a consequence of patient antibodies, demonstrating fibromyalgia is a disease of the immune system, rather than originating in the brain.
If fibromyalgia is an autoimmune problem, it is hoped that this revelation could pave the way for more effective treatments.
Study On Mice
The researchers injected mice with antibodies from FMS patients and found that the mice quickly developed increased sensitivity to pressure and cold, as well as decreased movement grip strength.
In contrast, mice injected with antibodies from healthy people were unaffected, indicating that patient antibodies cause, or at least contribute significantly to the disease.
Furthermore, mice injected with fibromyalgia antibodies recovered after a few weeks after the antibodies were cleared from their system.
Antibodies from humans with FMS living in the UK and Sweden, gave similar results, which adds more strength to the findings that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune problem. The next step will be to determine which factors the symptom-causing antibodies bind to.
Fibromyalgia often coincides with other conditions:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue
- Migraine and headaches
- Interstitial cystitis
- Joint disorders
This makes Fibromyalgia difficult to diagnose. The study findings will aid not only in the development of the FMS treatment strategies but also in the development of blood-based diagnostic tests, which are currently lacking.
How To Cope
Common questions patients ask themselves include: What is wrong with me, why do I hurt all over? How did I get fibromyalgia? How can it be treated? Why am I exhausted, and why does no one believe me?
Compassionate advice, and a variety of treatments, including a combination of medication and lifestyle changes, sometimes involving rheumatologists, neurologists, and psychologists in the patient’s care are currently favored.
It is also beneficial to follow online health practitioners who educate and empower individuals to be their own health heroes. Online specialists like Dr. Nandi, passionate about helping those who suffer from fibromyalgia, can guide sufferers to help themselves through diet, supplements, mental health healing, and exercise.
Whatever the approach, further hope has now been added with the finding that therapies that reduce patient antibody levels are likely to be effective.
The goal is always to help FMS patients return to a more normal quality of life.