Jul 26, 2013
Important Stepping Stone to Finding Cause of Fibro Pain Discovered
Fibromyalgia is a severe chronic pain syndrome that affects millions of people worldwide. The cause of Fibromyalgia has been disputed for a long time and many studies have been done trying to pinpoint the cause or something “visible” to test or focus on for diagnosis and treatment. The results of a study published in the journal Pain Medicine in the middle of June 2013 indicate a biological factor that may cause some of the widespread pain and explain why weather changes affect many people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.1
You may have seen an article on this research already, there are a lot of them all over the place and they focus on this study. Some common titles for this new research include “Doctors Confirm Fibromyalgia Is Not Imaginary”2, “Fibromyalgia Is Not All In Your Head, New Research Confirms” 3, and “Fibromyalgia Mystery Finally Solved!”.4
Rather than supporting or expounding to the hype, I wanted to share with you some of the information about the study itself, the discovery made during the study, why the discovery could potentially be very helpful, and where you can go to find more information about this study.
Integrated Tissue Dynamics and the Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Medical College. both located in New York, did a study focused on trying to determine if peripheral neuropathology exists in the innervation of cutaneous arterioles and arteriole-venule shunts (AV shunts) in Fibromyalgia patients.1
In English, this means a study to see if there is damage to the peripheral nervous system (which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body) specifically in the nerve endings related to the blood vessels found in our skin that connect the arterioles and venules, also called AV shunts.7
The study subjects consisted of 24 female Fibromyalgia patients and 9 healthy female control subjects. An additional 14 female control subjects were added from previous studies. 1
The testing consisted of taking special skin biopsies and examining them with specialized microscopes. AV stunts were identified in 18 out of 24 of the Fibromyalgia patients and 14 out of 23 of the control subjects.1
Women with Fibromyalgia have an enormous increase in sensory nerve fibers at specific sites within the blood vessels of the skin, particularly in the palms of their hands. These are called arteriole-venule (AV) shunts, which form a direct connection between arterioles and venules, regulate body temperatures, and play a role in pain sensation. 7
Prior to this study, scientists thought that arteriole-venule shunts simply helped regulate blood flow and had not considered them to be a potential source of widespread pain.
Graphic from Integrated Tissue Dynamics
Graphic and Explanation in Box from Integrated Tissue Dynamics
What This Study May Help Explain
The information gained in this study could explain why many people with Fibromyalgia have widespread deep tissue pain, “tender points” throughout their bodies, extreme pain in their hands and feet, fatigue, and why cold weather seems to make symptoms worse.
AV shunts play a major role in regulating body temperature and become more active during cold weather, which could potentially cause more pain to people with Fibromyalgia.7
Additionally, the excessive amounts of Av shunts and the alteration to blood flow caused by them could be the source of many other Fibromyalgia symptoms including widespread achiness and pain, poor sleep, and cognitive issues. 7
The Best Explanation of the Study
If you want to learn more about this study, then I recommend taking a look at the simplified explanation provided by Integrated Tissue Dynamics called “Women with Fibromyalgia Have A Real Pathology Among Nerve Endings to Blood Vessels in the Skin. A rational biological source of pain in the skin of patients with fibromyalgia.” 7
I realize this title isn’t as catchy as some of the others out there, but it is a great explanation of this study for regular people without specialized medical or scientific training. I particularly enjoyed the car analogy.
This study represents an exciting step forward in determining the root causes of Fibromyalgia, finding more effective ways to treat Fibromyalgia, determining ways to prevent Fibromyalgia and developing a cure for Fibromyalgia.
This study is truly an important stepping stone in determining a potential cause of Fibromyalgia pain, as we continue down the path investigating biological issues in Fibromyalgia patients. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it is really delightful to see some great new research investigating Fibromyalgia and chronic pain.
1. Albrecht, PJ, FL Rice, Q. Hou, CE Argoff, JR Storey, and JP Wymer. “Excessive Peptidergic Sensory Innervation of Cutaneous Arteriole-Venule Shunts (AVS) in the Palmar Glabrous Skin of Fibromyalgia Patients: Implications for Widespread Deep Tissue Pain and Fatigue.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, June-July 2013. Web. 15 June 2013.
2. Rannals, Lee. “Doctors Confirm Fibromyalgia Is Not Imaginary.” Scientists Find Source Of Fibromyalgia Pain- Health News – Red Orbit. Red Orbit, 18 June 2013. Web. 24 June 2013.
3. “The American Academy Of Pain Medicine.” American Academy of Pain Medicine. Pain Med, 14 June 2013. Web. 30 June 2013.
4. Savastio, Rebecca. “The Guardian Express.” The Guardian Express. The Guardian Express, 20 June 2013. Web. 30 June 2013.
5. Rice, Frank L., PhD. “Integrated Tissue Dynamics.” Integrated Tissue Dynamics. Integrated Tissue Dynamics, June 2013. Web. 30 June 2013.
6. Rice, Frank L., PhD. “Women with Fibromyalgia Have A Real Pathology Among Nerve Endings to Blood Vessels in the Skin.” Integrated Tissue Dynamics (INTiDYN). Integrated Tissue Dynamics, 24 June 2013. Web. 27 June 2013.
7. Sines, Vond