A Answers (12)
Find out more about this book:The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life
While there are many theories on what causes fibromyalgia, the truth remains that scientists do not know. For many years it was thought that the disease was caused by a disorder of the muscles or was a psychological problem. Some researchers believe that this mystery syndrome may have a genetic disposition as it can run in families. The most recent research suggests that the muscles themselves are more likely not the source of the pain, but that the pain may be a response to changes in the brain. All of these explanations remain uncertain, but research is continuing.
No single theory seems to explain all of the problems in fibromyalgia. Whatever the cause, the vicious cycle of pain and disturbed sleep leads to less activity and depression, then to more pain. This pain cycle creates a situation that can become disabling and incapacitating for months and possibly years unless the proper treatment is administered to control the symptoms. While there is no cure, the symptoms can be successfully treated.
For the most part, the cause of fibromyalgia is a mystery, but research has been able to shed a little light on the subject. It is very common for people to develop fibromyalgia following some type of physical or emotional trauma and stress seems to play a big role in that. However, exactly how stress affects fibromyalgia remains unclear. The condition has also been linked to certain infections and tends to run in families, leading researchers to believe that genetics are involved. This theory is further supported by the evidence of certain genes occurring more frequently in those suffering from fibromyalgia.
The causes of fibromyalgia remain unknown. The most current hypothesis is that fibromyalgia is the result of central nervous system malfunction, resulting in amplification (increase) of pain transmission and detection. Researchers believe that several factors, including sleep disturbances, stress, family history of fibromyalgia, infection, injury, abnormalities in the nervous system, and changes in muscle metabolism, may lead to the development of fibromyalgia. These events, however, may or may not be present in individuals diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Abnormal pain transmission: There is some evidence that fibromyalgia patients have abnormal pain transmission responses caused by defects in the central nervous system. According to the central sensitization theory, patients with fibromyalgia may have a lower pain threshold (the point at which pain begins to be felt) because of increased sensitivity in the brain to pain signals. Possible causes for this include: abnormally high levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain and/ or an increased sensitivity of the brain to pain signals. Abnormal pain processing may also be responsible for symptoms experienced in several chronic pain disorders that many fibromyalgia patients also experience, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), chronic low back pain, and other chronic pain disorders.You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Although the cause is unknown, some researchers think fibromyalgia may be the result of a genetic tendency, therefore, it may be passed on from generation to generation. When a person who has this tendency is exposed to certain emotional or physical stressors (like in an illness), there is a change in their body’s response to stress. This can result in a higher sensitivity of the entire body to pain. Scientists theorize that one of these body changes is a low level of a hormone, CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone), resulting in higher sensitivity to pain and more fatigue, including the fatigue experienced after exercise.
This hypersensitivity to pain may in part be from low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with a calming, anxiety reducing reaction. Lower levels of serotonin cause a lower pain threshold. The end result may be the chronic widespread pain of fibromyalgia.
Chronic fatigue syndrome and its painful cousin fibromyalgia represent an energy crisis where the body is spending more energy than it is able to make. When this occurs, the person "blows a fuse" called the hypothalamus - a major control center in the brain which regulates sleep, hormonal function, temperature, and other critical functions. Decreased energy in the muscles also results in chronic muscle shortening and pain (think writer’s cramp or even rigor mortis).
Fibromyalgia is one of many functional symptom syndromes, composed of medically unexplained symptoms, which are “caused” by dysfunction involving the mind/brain—body connection.
To explain the unexplainable and cause, look at the terms used here and then “see the big picture.”
LOOK AT TERMS
• Functional refers to how the body works.
• Symptoms of fibromyalgia include chronic widespread pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
• Symptom Syndromes are collections of medically unexplained symptoms. They are also known as functional somatic syndromes and chronic multisymptom illnesses. Nearly every specialty defines at least one syndrome. Examples include RHEUMATOLOGY (fibromyalgia), UROLOGY (interstitial cystitis/painful bladder and chronic prostatitis/painful prostate), and GASTROENTEROLOGY (irritable bowel syndrome).
• Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS) cannot be explained by medical tests, such as x-rays, endoscopies, and blood tests, because they are caused by dysfunction.
• Dysfunction is disturbance or “malfunction” of how the body works.
• Mind/Brain-Body Connection refers to how the mind/brain and body communicate and talk with one another.
SEE THE BIG PICTURE
MUS and symptom syndromes frequently overlap with one another and are commonly associated with and often attributed to stress, depression, anxiety, and/or panic. Medical and scientific research is showing how the mind/brain and body communicate and both how and why symptoms are generated. One of the most important discoveries is that the "central" mind/brain can become "sensitized" to "peripheral" body pain and symptom signals. So these symptom syndromes are now being called, central sensitivity syndromes.
A new book, Still Hurting? FIND HEALTH!, written by this author with Thomas L Hudson, MDiv JD, (StillHurtingFINDHEALTH.com), proposes a new unifying and holistic medical model of medically unexplained symptoms and their related symptom syndromes as chronic disease, explains both how and why they occur, and shows what people can do to help themselves and work effectively with their caregivers.
DISEASE IS DYSFUNCTION, AND SYMPTOMS ARE THE EXPRESSION. The cause of medically unexplained symptoms and pain can be understood as disease/dysfunction, regardless of whether the symptoms are widespread (e.g., the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia) or localized to a specific area of the body (e.g., the abdominal pain and bowel dysfunction of irritable bowel syndrome).
The causes of FM are not known. Researchers think a number of factors might be involved. FM has been linked to:Having a family history of fibromyalgia (i.e. genetics) Being exposed to stressful or traumatic events, such as Car accidents Injuries to the body caused by performing the same action over and over again Infections or illnesses Being deployed to war
This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information.