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Fibromyalgia – Do We Really Know The Cause?

Posted Jun 16 2013 12:00am
Fibromyalgia body pain treatment SF
We have been offering natural solutions for Fibromyalgia in San Francisco for over 20 years.

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a condition that is characterized by widespread pain, fatigue and an increased pain response. Symptoms can include tingling of the skin, muscle spasms, weakness in the arms and legs, nerve pain, muscle twitching, bowel disturbances, chronic sleep disturbances, and more. So, what can cause such a widespread, whole body condition? Though the “cause” of FM is unknown, several hypotheses have emerged. Here is what we know:


1.     : Structural and functional differences have been identified in the brains of FM vs. healthy individuals. What is unclear is whether these identifiable brain changes cause the FM symptoms or are the result of an unknown cause. Some experts have reported that the abnormal brain findings may be the result of childhood stress, or prolonged, severe stress at any time in life. An area commonly affected is called the hippocampus, which plays a crucial role in maintaining cognitive functions, sleep regulation, and pain perception.

2.      : Due to an increased reactivity of pain-sensitive nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain (called “central sensitization), FM patients feel pain sooner and worse than non-FM subjects.

3.      : It has been reported that FM is often found in multiple family members. This genetic propensity also includes other conditions that often co-exist in FM patients such as chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and depression.

4.      : Stress by itself may be an important cause of FM. It is not uncommon to develop FM after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. An association between physical and sexual abuse both in childhood and adulthood has also been identified. Poor lifestyle issues including smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity increase the risk of developing FM.

5.   : Dopamine is a chemical needed for neurotransmission and plays a role in pain perception. It is also connected to the development of restless leg syndrome (RLS), which is a frequent complaint of FM patients. Medications found effective for RLS such as pramipexole (also used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease) can be helpful for some FM patients.

6.  : Another neurotransmitter, serotonin, regulates sleep patterns, mood, concentration, and pain and can be involved in causing FM. Decreases in other neurotransmitters (especially norepinephrine), when combined with serotonin depletion, can especially cause FM (more so in women than men). Hence, medications like duloxetine (Cympalta) originally used to treat depression and painful diabetic neuropathy, have been found to help FM patients, especially women.

7.      : Abnormal levels of GH have been found in FM patients, but studies report mixed results when treating FM with GH.

8.    : Strong evidence supports the association of FM and depression. Similarities include neuroendocrine abnormalities, psychological characteristics, physical symptoms and similar treatment benefits using the same approach (medication, counciling, etc.).

9.      : Trauma can increase the risk of FM. One report found a direct association with neck trauma and increased risk of developing FM.

10.   : This can contribute to FM and may explain the association with IBS. The autoimmune response to the presence of bacteria resulting in FM symptoms has been hypothesized in these cases.

            : As previously stated, it is clear that a “team” of providers is needed to effectively treat FM. We’d be to be part of your team and we have medical doctors that specialize in FM that we can refer you to if needed.

            If you, a friend or family member requires care for FM, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services!

To schedule an appointment with one of our San Francisco Fibromyalgia experts please call 415-392-2225. Our chiropractors are capable of quarterbacking or just being a part of your FM team.

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