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What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Sunday 6 October 2019


From the Cleveland Clinic's Health Essentials:



What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Signs point to changes in the brain

October 4, 2019
Cleveland Clinic © 1995-2019. All Rights Reserved.

Aches and pains — everywhere. Fatigue. Sleep problems. Foggy thinking. Together, these symptoms often add up to fibromyalgia.

Experts still have a lot to learn about the cause of the disease. But scientists are finding evidence that points to a likely suspect: neuroinflammation, or inflammation in the brain.

“We still don’t fully understand what causes fibromyalgia. But brain scans of patients with fibromyalgia show this neuroinflammation,” says pain management expert Benjamin Abraham, MD. “We can see that the pain nerves are inflamed and irritated.”

Looking for pain in all the wrong places

Muscle pain is one of the key symptoms of fibromyalgia. So in the early days of fibromyalgia research, scientists looked for evidence of inflammation in the aching muscles of people with the disease, says Dr. Abraham. But they came up short.

Current research suggests they were looking in the wrong place. More and more, research hints that the problem lies in the pain processing systems within the brain.

People with a fibromyalgia diagnosis seem to have a pain-sensing system that’s out of whack. They have a bigger-than-normal reaction to painful sensations. And they often feel pain in response to sensations (like heat or cold) that other people don’t find painful at all.

“We’re beginning to understand that fibromyalgia is a disease of pain processing,” Dr. Abraham says.


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