Fibromyalgia Cause

Currently, there is no consensus among experts about what causes fibromyalgia. Theories abound, but to date no one has been able to definitively show what causes this mysterious illness which results in wide-spread pain and overwhelming fatigue, as well as a host of other symptoms. It may be that fibromyalgia is caused by more than one event, or that scientists have simply not hit upon the exact trigger yet. There is currently much interest in fibromyalgia and its sister syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, so there is hope that one day experts will be able to determine the cause and an effective treatment or cure.

Several theories have been developed as to what causes fibromyalgia:

Fibromyalgia quite often runs in families, lending credence to the theory that fibromyalgia sufferers are predisposed to developing the condition.
Infection with the Epstein Barr virus, hepatitis C and other systemic infections have been linked with fibromyalgia. It is known that chronic infection with certain viruses can trigger the development of fibromyalgia.
Physical/Emotional trauma
Some studies suggest that fibromyalgia is more common in people who have experienced physical or emotional abuse and that fibromyalgia is similar to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In addition, fibromyalgia has also been linked to prior physical trauma, such as back, head and neck injuries.
Concomitant illness
Fibromyalgia has been linked to other diseases and illnesses, such as Lyme disease, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus). This suggests an autoimmune link with fibromyalgia.
Chronic sleep disturbance
Many fibromyalgia sufferers have difficulty sleeping, and some experts believe that sleep pattern dysfunction is the root of the condition. It is estimated that up to 80% of people with fibromyalgia have disordered sleep patterns. Restless leg syndrome (RLS), periodic limb movement disorder, sleep apnea and bruxism (teeth grinding) have been associated with fibromyalgia. Alpha-EEG abnormalities, found in many people with fibromyalgia, are sudden bursts of brain activity in the stage of sleep that is most restorative. Many fibromyalgia sufferers are not able to attain the deep, healing sleep that is needed for repair of tissues. This is thought to contribute to complaints of muscle tenderness as well as cognitive issues that afflict fibromyalgia sufferers (i.e. “fibro fog”). In addition, some studies point to abnormal levels of serotonin and melatonin in people with fibromyalgia, both of which are associated with restorative sleep.
Abnormal pain perception
Many experts believe that people with fibromyalgia experience pain differently than people who do not have the condition. Imaging studies have shown central nervous system disturbances in the brains of people with fibromyalgia in response to pain stimulation. Low serotonin levels found in people with fibromyalgia are linked to pain perception. In addition, substance P, found in the spinal cord, increases nerve sensitivity to pain and heightens pain perception; in studied subjects with fibromyalgia, levels of substance P were found to be 2 to 3 times higher than normal.

There are many theories as to what causes fibromyalgia and no clear answers at this time. However, research is ongoing and there is hope that research will point the way to a method of definitive testing for the condition, better treatment modalities or perhaps even a cure.


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Did You Know?

Fibromyalgia is a prevalent condition that affects many people in the United States. Approximately 3.7 million Americans have Fibromyalgia. That is 1 in every 73 people.

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