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Hey Fibromyalgia Sufferers, Science Has Decided You Might Not Be Making It All Up

According to a June 2013 article, we people who claim to be in pain with fibromyalgia may not be depressed, hysterical, hypochondriacs, or just overly imaginative.

Researchers believe they've found the main source of pain, "and contrary to what many believe, it does not stem from the brain."


Instead of overactive pain signals, scientists now believe that the culprits are excess blood vessels in the hand. From the article:

"The discovery may lead to new treatments and perhaps even a total cure in the future, bringing relief to as many as 5 million Americans thought to have the disease. To solve the Fibromyalgia mystery, researchers zeroed in on the skin from the hand of one patient who had a lack of the sensory nerve fibers, causing a reduced reaction to pain. They then took skin samples from the hands of Fibromyalgia patients and were surprised to find an extremely excessive amount of a particular type of nerve fiber called arteriole-venule (AV) shunts.

Up until this point scientists had thought that these fibers were only responsible for regulating blood flow, and did not play any role in pain sensation, but now they’ve discovered that there is a direct link between these nerves and the widespread body pain that Fibromyalgia sufferers feel.

The breakthrough also could solve the lingering question of why many sufferers have extremely painful hands as well as other “tender points” throughout the body, and why cold weather seems to aggravate the symptoms. In addition to feeling widespread deep tissue pain, many Fibromyalgia patients also suffer from debilitating fatigue.


Neuroscientist Dr. Frank L. Rice explained: “We previously thought that these nerve endings were only involved in regulating blood flow at a subconscious level, yet here we had evidences that the blood vessel endings could also contribute to our conscious sense of touch… and also pain,” Rice said. “This mismanaged blood flow could be the source of muscular pain and achiness, and the sense of fatigue which are thought to be due to a build-up of lactic acid and low levels of inflammation fibromyalgia patients. This, in turn, could contribute to the hyperactivity in the brain.”

I'm not sure where they'll be going with this, but this fibromyte is cautiously optimistic. In other news, I really hope this puts an end to doctors who patronize any claims of pain with "Are you sure you aren't just imagining it?" or "Maybe you are just dehydrated/depressed/tired/female/an owl."

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