5 Fibromyalgia Myths

27 Jan 5 Fibromyalgia Myths

For many years, fibromyalgia has been somewhat of a mystery condition. In the past, there was not a lot of scientific evidence about fibromyalgia and as a result, a great deal of mixed information fibromyalgia myths appeared. Now is a good time to get rid of those myths and establish the facts.

Myth #1 Fibromyalgia is a type of arthritis

Fact – Fibromyalgia is a neurological condition. It was once believed that fibromyalgia may be a type of arthritis, but the research in the past decade has proven this to be untrue. Arthritis is defined as joint inflammation, but with fibromyalgia, there is no joint damage and no inflammation. You can have a type of arthritis with fibromyalgia, but it is a separate disorder. New techniques in brain imaging and scientific research has shown that fibromyalgia is a central nervous system disorder where there is abnormal pain processing.

Myth #2 Fibromyalgia affects your connective tissue, joints and muscles.

Fact – There is no damage to connective tissue, joints and muscles in those who have fibromyalgia. For decades, fibromyalgia was described as a musculoskeletal condition. That’s because a great deal of the pain feels like it is coming from the connective tissue, joints and muscles. However years of testing could not show a musculoskeletal connection. More recent research has found that the central nervous system is malfunctioning in those who have fibromyalgia, which causes faulty sensory processing leading to amplification of pain.

Myth #3 Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune condition.

Fact – Autoimmune diseases happen because the body has an overactive immune response – the body’s immune system starts to attack its own tissues and cells. Years of research have shown no link to bacteria, virus or immune disorders. However, it is quite common for a fibromyalgia sufferer to also have autoimmune diseases such as lupus, celiac, Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, endometriosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Myth #4 Fibromyalgia is a psychological disorder.

Fact – Fibromyalgia is a physical disorder. There are measurable biological abnormalities. This myth likely came about because in the earlier days when there was no answer to what caused fibromyalgia it was often said to be a psychological disorder and patients were told it was in their head. Today, there is proof that is it a physical illness with a number of biological abnormalities, including:

•    High levels of “substance P,” which is a central nervous system neurotransmitter that is involved in the pain processing.

•    Low levels of somatomedin C, which is a hormone promoting muscle and bone growth.

•    Low levels of nerve growth factor.

•    Low levels of a number of neurochemicals: norepinephrine, serotonin, cortisol and dopamine.

•    Low levels of adenosine and phosphocreatine, muscle-cell chemicals.

Unfortunately, even with the current scientific evidence, some doctors still dismiss fibromyalgia as a psychological problem, insisting that the symptoms are because of depression. The fact is, the percent of fibromyalgia patients who suffer from depression isn’t any higher than those with other chronic conditions.

Unfortunately, it takes around 17 years for new research to become mainstream medicine, so these myths are likely going to be floating around for some time yet.

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