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New Study Finds Major Pathology in Fibromyalgia Patients

Posted Jun 28 2013 8:16pm

Scientists at Integrated Tissue Dynamics ( and Albany Medical College have discovered a pathology in the skin of  fibromyalgia patients involving the nerve endings to a type of blood vessel called arteriole-venule shunts that plays an important role in the regulation of blood flow. In the human body blood flows from the heart through arteries which divide up into smaller arteries called arterioles and ultimately into capillaries to supply tissues with nutrition, eliminate waste and regulate temperature. From the capillaries the blood returns to small veins called venules which then connect to larger veins traveling back to the heart. Arteriole-venule shunts or AVS are small valves that connect arterioles to venules. When the AVS are closed blood flow is forced into the capillaries in order to dissipate heat; when the AVS are open blood flow is diverted from the capillaries to conserve heat. In this way the AVS function as a thermostat in regulating body temperature.

There are two kinds of nerve supply which control whether the AVS valves are open or closed: sympathetic and sensory. Sympathetic nerve supply can activate the muscle in the wall of the AVS to constrict (close).  Sensory nerve supply operate in two directions causing the AVS to constrict and to dialate (close and open). The sensory nerve supply has two functions: it regulates blood flow; and it allows the body to feel contact and temperature through the skin and to experience pain when there is tissue damage. Molecular characteristics of the sympathetic and sensory fibers indicate they communicate and regulate each other. The Albany Med and Intidyn team of scientists discovered that the AVS in the hands of fibomyalgia patients have an extremely excessive amount of sensory fibers. They postulated that this could interfere with the regulation of blood flow through the body and result in a lack proper nutrition to the muscles during exercise causing the wide spread pain and fatigue symptomatic of fibromyalgia. Abnormalities in the AVS may also explain why persons with fibromyalgia have difficulty regulating body temperature with low tolerance for extreme hot and cold temperatures.

This recent research is a welcome development in the understanding of fibromyalgia and hopefully will help debunk any lingering myths that fibromyalgic pain is psychological. I have personally suspected that fibromyalgia muscle pain had something to do with poor blood flow and/or low blood volume for some time. Chiropractic adjustments and Whole Body Cryotherapy are two of the most effective treatments for relief of fibromyalgia pain most likely because they stimulate blood flow without aggravating the inflammation in the muscle fascia. I think that future research will show abnormalities not only in the amount of sensory fibers in AVS but in the entire cadiovascular system of persons with fibromyalgia which is essentially "sluggish" or operating in "low gear".

There is a lot of research establishing cardiovascular irregularities in persons with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a closely related disorder to Fibromyalgia Syndrome. These include a blood pressure regulation abnormality called neurally mediated hypo tension; abnormal oscillating T-waves of the heart on 24 hour EKG Holter monitor demonstrating abnormal left ventricular myocardial function; low levels of circulating blood volume and Red Blood Cell mass; and low cardiac output. For more information on this read my post  Dr. Paul Cheney one of the leading CFS researchers and physicians uses heart ultra sound equipment as an important diagnostic tool and can identify patterns indicative of the condition. I suspect that one would find similar patterns in persons with fibromyalgia.

One of the most significant treatments for helping persons with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia syndrome is Oral Systemic Balance because it directly affects the cardiovascular system. Developed by a TMJ dentist named Farrand Robson, the therapy employs oral appliance to improve a person's ability to breathe which allows the body to heal on many different levels. Initially working with heart rate variability and then EKG as diagnostic tools Robson ascertained that the autonomic nervous system and more specifically the heart compensates for restrictions in the air passage or throat because when he makes changes to an appliance he observes positive changes in heart function. In the past year Dr. Farrand Robson has made significant advancements in Oral Systemic Balance since he started working with a heart ultrasound machine as a diagnostic tool. 

My personal health recovery has benefited most from Oral Systemic Balance. Five years ago it brought me out of the "black hole" my health had declined into but I did not get completely well. Two months ago I began my second phase of Oral Systemic Balance treatments with the addition of the heart ultra sound and I am progressing further. I no longer have fatigue or fibromyalgia pain with everyday acitivities although I still cannot exercise regularly; my sleep is much better but is still disturbed; and my hypersensitivities to food are still a problem. It will be interesting to see how much more recovery I get from OSB over the coming months. Although addressing breathing problems with OSB has been the most helpful for me I have also benefited from LENS neurofeedback, female hormone replacement, Wilson's Thyroid Syndrome protocol, a strict diet and detox work. Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia syndromes are multifacted conditions which I suspect usually involve chronic infections. The road to recovery is not a clear and easy one but with the advancements in medical research we are getting closer to understanding and effectively treating these conditions. 

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