Some health care professionals claim that fibromyalgia is psychosomatic as there are no X-ray images, blood tests, or biopsies that will indicate the presence of fibromyalgia definitively. Neither is the condition quantifiable. The debate is further exacerbated by the fact that Dr. Frederick Wolfe, a researcher who spearheaded a paper in 1990 that presented a diagnostic protocol for fibromyalgia to the world, has since stated that “fibromyalgia exists as a continuum rather than a dichotomous diagnosis.” In other words, according to Wolfe, fibromyalgia exists on a spectrum and not as a black and white illness.
Fibromyalgia, a medical mystery
Fibromyalgia has long been considered a scientific mystery. Technological innovation has prompted us to take a closer look. Today this is a recognized disorder, part of a group of chronic pain syndromes described as disorders of the central nervous system.
It’s defined contemporarily as the sense of the body’s internal state that helps us understand what’s going on inside our body. This study investigates fibromyalgia interception and concludes that hypervigilance to potentially negative stimuli ( i.e., pain) often associated with fibromyalgia can contribute to sensory overload, affecting our pain’s accuracy , sensitivity, and awareness.
Studies showing that the parts of the brain that process pain signals in fibromyalgia, migraine and other chronic pain disorders are lit up like Christmas trees indicate that the brain plays a major role in these diseases. Other findings in fibromyalgia, which suggest that the process in habituations, which would minimize pain naturally over time, does not function too well, often suggest brain involvement.
Types of nerve fibers
There are two separate nerve fibers in the skin: one transmits signs of pain and the other sympathetic signs of the nervous system. As there are (and are likely to be intertwined) complications with both the pain response and sympathetic nervous system, all forms of nerve fibers may have been affected with FM. And, since pain automatically stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) or “fight or flight” reaction, its possible importance to FM doesn’t come as a shock. Some researchers like Dr. Martinez-Lavin claim that the pain response in fibromyalgia is directly caused by aberrant sympathetic activity of the nervous system. The big question right now is whether the two findings relate to central nervous system problems and skin nerve problems in fibromyalgia. This is what the Italian researchers tried to figure out in the analysis below.
Centered on findings of the relationship between somatosensory processing and FM pain, and given the affective symptoms of this condition, we measured three dimensions of interception in FM: interceptive accuracy (IA), interceptive sensitivity (IAW) and interceptive response (IS). Many regression analyzes have shown that increased effects of pain and responses reduce IA in FM. Such an effect was only found in FM patients when the results of each group were examined separately. On its turn, emotional awareness and pain-related effects and reactions predicted IS but these effects did not differ between FM and controls. Finally, none of the variables we used did IAW forecast.
The Italian researchers in the present study attempted to cross the divide between body and brain by assessing two apparently disparate processes in a single group of patients. A “laser-evoked potentials” (LEP) test was used to assess if FM was functioning in the habituation phase in the brain that would damp down pain signals. The “sympathetic skin response” test measured whether the sympathetic skin nerves functioned properly. Results from the study suggesting that sympathetic skin response (SSR) is delayed in FM indicate that there could be issues with these skin nerves. One group of researchers even suggests that SSR testing could provide the first biological FM test.
Reclassification of fibromyalgia
Wolfe ‘s assertion and other research have resulted in several medical professionals calling for fibromyalgia to be reclassified from a categorical illness to a spectrum condition. Any such action, however, may have major implications. Andrea M. Risi, LPC, a Denver-based fitness, illness, and medical subject specialist, said, “The issue with a continuum diagnosis is that it will not be accepted in the medical world. Some physicians refuse to treat an unquantifiable disorder (such as the outcome of an X-ray or blood test); And seeking and receiving the most appropriate medication for a spectrum diagnosis can be challenging for the patient.
Effect of depression on the intensity of pain
“If a person is depressed or anxious about the disease, there may be a greater frequency and intensity of pain and flare-ups, according to Risi. A psychiatrist may help recognise depressive emotions , feelings, and habits that contribute to the pain process so when the individual uses coping strategies, those flare-ups can decrease. “If fibromyalgia affects anyone you love, be a source of support by displaying empathy, compassion , and understanding. Increase your understanding of the condition, and encourage your loved one to seek a therapist’s help if necessary. A qualified mental health professional can help relieve symptoms and certain conditions that may be associated with fibromyalgia.
We don’t know exactly what causes fibromyalgia but we need to develop treatments based on what we know. We know for example that there are shifts in the brain. Hence, one potential therapy could be brain stimulation techniques such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS); a non-invasive procedure that may alter neural activity in the brain. There is obviously a growing need to include fibromyalgia sufferers with tailored and successful treatment options. There is great optimism for the future considering how much we have come to understand the mysterious pain of the disease.
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- What Signals Is The Body With Fibromyalgia Telling The Mind? via Pro Health
Study Source: Borg C, Chouchou F, Dayot-Gorlero J, Zimmerman P, Maudoux D, Laurent B, Michael GA. Pain and emotion as predictive factors of interoception in fibromyalgia. J Pain Res. 2018 Apr 19;11:823-835. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S152012. eCollection 2018.