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What causes pain associated with fibromyalgia?

Some of the latest information from medical journals reveals that in people who suffer with chronic pain, the spinal cord becomes overloaded with input. This makes it hypersensitive to any messages sent its way and causes the spinal cord to overreact to amplify any response. When your body behaves in this manner, you will feel pain from contact (such as a cool breeze) that should virtually have no effect. Because researchers have found that those with FMS often feel higher sensitivity to pain over their entire body, this has led to the idea that their body’s overall pain threshold may be dramatically lower than usual. 

Other researchers think fibromyalgia may be the result of a genetic tendency, therefore, it could 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.

The hypersensitivity to pain with fibromyalgia 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 and effect sleep habits. The end result may be the chronic widespread pain of fibromyalgia.

Still other researchers have recently concluded that those with fibromyalgia have significantly less blood flow to the parts of the brain that deal with pain. In studies where fibromyalgia patients were compared to healthy people, those with FMS were found to have twice the level of a brain chemical called Substance P, a neuropeptide involved in pain signals.  This chemical helps nervous system cells send messages to each other about painful stimuli. It is thought that when P levels are elevated in the body, they may produce higher levels of pain.

It is possible that your pain would become worse or better depending on the changing seasons. Pain associated with fibromyalgia is thought to have stress-related causes in some patients. The changing weather can contribute to the stress level on the body, affecting your pain. It would be good to address this concern with your physician. There are other medications available to treat the pain associated with fibromyalgia. You can also ask your doctor about non-medication therapy - some patients find benefit from water based physical therapy (aqua therapy) and other types of physical therapy. Your physician can review your medical history to see if any could benefit you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.