Fibromyalgia is not all in your heads, new research confirms


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a commonly misjudged condition that causes widespread pain and fatigue. If you’ve been diagnosed with FM and are trying to learn all you can about the condition, you may come across some myths and misunderstandings about FM. The topmost misconception is that people consider FM is not an actual medical problem or that it is “all in your head.”

There’s a lot that’s unknown and unidentified about FM, but researchers have learned more about it in just the past few years. In people who have FM, the brain and spinal cord process pain signals in a different way. As a result, they respond more intensely to touch and pressure, with an amplified sensitivity to pain. It is an actual physiological and neurochemical problem.

In our society, people incline to think that there is a cure or a fix for every medical problem. You go to the physician, expecting he or she will fix whatever is wrong with you with medication or surgical treatment. It is annoying to people with FM because the customary treatment methods is not effective. And it is also frustrating to health care workers because they want to help people. But there is no easy fix. It takes lifestyle variations and small steps toward accomplishing wellness. It is a process.

More people comprehend that FM is an actual problem, often because they know someone who has it, possibly a sister or daughter or mother. And more men are being diagnosed with FM now that the diagnostic standards are no longer fixated so heavily on the number of tender points you might have.

Now, an advance discovery by scientists at Integrated Tissue Dynamics LLC (Intidyn) has provided a biological logic for this mysterious disease. The company, founded by neuroscientists Dr. Frank L. Rice and Dr. Phillip J. Albrecht, used an exclusive multi-molecular ChemoMorphometric Analysis (CMA) to assess nerve fibers within small skin biopsies. The study was limited to women who are more than twice as expected to be afflicted by fibromyalgia as men.

“We detected extremely excessive sensory nerve fibers around blood vessels in the palms of the hands,” said Dr. Rice. “This discovery delivers tangible proof of a FM specific pathology that is evidently outside of the brain.  This could be used to facilitate the diagnosis of the disease and provide a new target for the development of truly effective therapeutics.”

Nerve Endings Come In Many Forms

3 years ago, Intidyn scientists published the discovery of an unidentified nervous system function among the blood vessels in the skin in the journal PAIN. As Dr. Rice explained, “we examined the skin of a mostly interesting patient who lacked all the numerous varieties of sensory nerve endings in the skin that supposedly accounted for our highly sensitive and richly nuanced sense of touch. Interestingly however, this patient had surprisingly normal function in everyday chores.

But, the only sensory endings we detected in his skin were those around the blood vessels”. Dr. Rice continued, “We previously thought that these nerve endings were only involved in regulating blood flow at a subconscious level, yet here we had proof that the blood vessel endings could also contribute to our conscious sense of touch… and also pain.” “Knowing how these drugs were supposed to work on molecules in the brain,” Dr. Albrecht added, “we had proof that similar molecules were involved in the function of nerve endings on the blood vessels. Therefore, we hypothesized that FM might involve a pathology in that location”. As the results prove, they were correct.

A Thermostat for the Skin

Notably, the excessive nerve fibers were concentrated around tiny muscular valves, called arteriole-venule (AV) shunts.  In humans, these shunts are found in the palms of our hands and soles of our feet and work like the radiator in a car.




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