Karen Lee Richards wrote an article for the ProHealth Fall 2007 newsletter on Fibromyalgia myth busting. Fibromyalgia has been so misunderstood over the years and many myths have went around about this illness due to lack of scientific evidence. But with new technology and current research, many of these myths are being unraveled and the true facts of FM are being clarified.
Myth: Fibromyalgia is a form of arthritis.
Fact: Fibromyalgia is a neurologic disease.
Research over the past decade has proven that FM is not a form of arthritis. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. In FM, there is no joint inflammation or any joint damage. With the latest research on brain imaging for FM, the studies are revealing that Fibromyalgia is better defined as a central nervous system disorder that results in abnormal pain processing.
Myth: Fibromyalgia affects the muscles, joints and connective tissue.
Fact: There is no damage to the muscles, joints or connective tissue of people with Fibromyalgia.
Years of testing has failed to show that there is any damage to the musculoskeletal system in FM patients. Research has shown that there is a malfunction in the central nervous system of Fibromyalgia patients. This malfunction causes disordered sensory processing that leads to pain amplification.
Myth: Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease.
Fact: Fibromyalgia is NOT an autoimmune disease.
In autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system begins to attack its own cells and tissues. Research has shown no evidence of this in Fibromyalgia. Years of research have not turned up any virus, bacteria or immune disorder. However, it is not uncommon for someone with Fibromyalgia to also have one or more autoimmune diseases. Some of these include celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, lupus, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjorgren’s syndrome, thyroid disease, CFS, IC Disease, and Lyme Disease.
Myth: Fibromyalgia is a middle-aged woman’s disease.
Fact: Fibromyalgia affects men, women and children.
A larger percentage of adult women have been diagnosed with FM than men or children. It does affect alla ges and both sexes though. New research is showing that it may turn out that more men and children have FM than previously thought.
Myth: Fibromyalgia is a psychological problem.
Fact: Fibromyalgia is a physical disorder with real, measureable biological abnormalities.
For many years, FM patients have been told that what they suffer from is all in their heads. Finally research offers proof that FM is a very real and physical illness. NOTE I SAID PHYSICAL FOR THOSE OF YOU OUT THERE WHO STILL DON’T GET IT!
Research studies have revealed a number of biological abnormalities that accompany the illness and account for many symptoms. These include:
– Decreased blood flow to specific areas of the brain which may explain the pain sensitivity adn cognitive functioning problems in FM patients.
– High levesl of “substance P”, a central nervous system neurotransmitter involved in pain processing.
– Low levels of nerve growth factor.
– Low levels of somatomedin C, a hormone that promotes bone and muscle growth.
– Low levels of several neurochemicals: serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and cortisol.
– Low levels of phosphocreatine and adenosine, muscle-cell chemicals.