Do you have widespread pain and feel excessively tired most of the time? Do these symptoms get to the point where they become debilitating? Well, it’s not all in your head and you shouldn’t blame these feelings on being overworked. You might actually have a condition known as fibromyalgia.
Like most invisible illnesses, fibromyalgia is not a universally recognized medical condition, even to this day. With limited or inconclusive research, many fibro sufferers have a hard time getting their doctors to validate their symptoms as real, let alone find appropriate treatments. But one particular study points to evidence of physiological manifestations of fibromyalgia.
What is Fibromyalgia?
How Nerve Fibres Contribute to Fibromyalgia
Scientists at the Integrated Tissue Dynamics LCC (Intidyn), a small biotechnology research company, made a breakthrough discovery about the illness that proves it is not all in the brain (1). In the study conducted on 24 female patients, 9 healthy control subjects, and 14 additional control subjects from previous studies, it was found that patients had an enormous increase in sensory nerve fibres around blood vessel structures in the palms of their hands (2). The excessively sensitive nerve fibres were located around tiny muscular valves known as arteriole-venule (AV) shunts (3).
AV shunts, which can found in the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet, work to regulate our temperatures (3). In cooler conditions, they open so our capillaries conserve heat, which results in our hands getting cold (3). In warmer conditions, they close, which causes blood to go into our capillaries and heat to radiate from our skin (3). These shunts are kind of like an internal thermostat for our skin (3).
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Prior to the study, it was thought that nerve endings were only used to regulate blood flow, but there was evidence in the research that suggested the blood vessel endings could also contribute to pain (1). Dr. Rice, the senior researcher on the study, explained, “the pathology discovered among these shunts in the hands could be interfering with blood flow to the muscles throughout the body. This mismanaged blood flow could be the source of muscular pain and achiness, and the sense of fatigue” (1).
Hope For the Future
Although the study provided some sense of relief to fibromyalgia sufferers, it was conducted back in 2013. Since then, there hasn’t been a “miracle cure” for the disease; however, other studies have also concluded that nerve damage contributes to fibromyalgia (4).
A recent study conducted by scientists in Sweden linked another circumstance to fibromyalgia. They found that the cerebrospinal fluid in the brains of fibromyalgia subjects contained significantly higher levels of inflammation compared to healthy subjects (5). Evidently, there are a number of factors at play when it comes to the development of fibromyalgia.
Every little discovery made about fibromyalgia leads us closer to a cure. There have been some promising medicinal and therapeutic treatments that have been proven to reduce pain for patients in recent years, but like any illness, it will take time for the condition to be fully understood (5, 6). Until then, keep on holding out hope! Read this next to learn effective tips for relieving fibromyalgia pain.
(1) Researchers Discover a Rational Biological Source of Pain in the Skin of Patients with Fibromyalgia. (2013, June 14). Retrieved from http://www.intidyn.com/news-events/news/20-researchers-discover-a-rational-biological-source-of-pain-in-the-skin-of-patients-with-fibromyalgia-press-relase
(2) Albrecht, P.J., Huo, Q., Argoff, C.E., Storey, J.R., Wymer, J.P., Rice, F.L. (2013, June). Excessive peptidergic sensory innervation of cutaneous arteriole-venule shunts (AVS) in the palmar glabrous skin of fibromyalgia patients: implications for widespread deep tissue pain and fatigue. Pain Med, 14 (6), 895-915. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23691965
(3) Rana, M.G. (2017, November 14). Fibromyalgia is not all in your heads, new research confirms. Retrieved from https://fibromyalgiaresources.com/fibromyalgia-heads-research/
(4) Sutherland, S. (n.d.) Fibromyalgia: Cracking the Case. Retrieved from http://relief.news/fibromyalgia-cracking-the-case/
(5) Liptan, G. (2017, April 9). New Treatment Target for Fibromyalgia: Inflammation in the Brain. Retrieved from http://www.drliptan.com/blog/2017/4/9/new-treatment-target-for-fibromyalgia-inflammation-in-the-brain
(6) New hope for people with fibromyalgia (2017, September 21). ScienceDaily. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170921161243.htm
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