Do you have widespread pain or tenderness throughout your body? Do you feel a lot of fatigue and are emotionally drained? Does how you feel effect your quality of life?
This is the fact that still scientists don’t know exactly what causes fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia affects as many as 4 million Americans 18 and older. The average age range at which fibromyalgia is diagnosed is 35 to 45 years old, but most people have had symptoms, including chronic pain, that started much earlier in life.
The top most causes of fibromyalgia are infections, genetics, and past abuse. There may be psychological reasons for fibromyalgia that is not caused by tissue injuries or damage to the nervous system, what they call a “third type of pain”. There is no validated diagnostic criteria for this third type of pain.
Childhood physical abuse is associated with significantly
elevated rates of functional somatic syndromes such as chronic
fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivities among women,
according to new findings by University of Toronto researchers. The research
will be published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Aggression,
Maltreatment & Trauma.
“Women who reported they had been physically abused as children have twice the odds of chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivities, and 65 per cent higher odds of fibromyalgia” says lead investigator Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, who holds the Sandra Rotman Chair at U of T’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Department of Family and Community Medicine. “These findings persisted even after controlling for potentially confounding factors such as other adverse childhood experiences, age, race, mental health and adult socioeconomic status.”
The study examined statistics from a regional subsample of the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey involving 7,342 women, 10 per cent of whom reported being physically abused as children. A minority of women reported they had been diagnosed by a health professional with chronic fatigue syndrome (1.3%), fibromyalgia (2.5%), or multiple chemical sensitivities (2.7%).
Co-author Joanne Sulman, from the Department of Social Work at Mount Sinai, says the research not only points to an association between childhood physical abuse and these disorders, but also explores the contribution of confounding psychosocial factors such as other childhood adversities, adult health behaviours and mental health.
There are brain changes in the patients who are sexually abused, research published in “Scientific American” in 1995. The hippocampus was significantly altered in abused patients. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for short-term and long-term memories. During stressful events, the hippocampus is flooded with the stress hormone cortisol. This altered the brain and the way memories were stored in abused patients. Some researchers theorize that extended stress could also alter the area of the brain dealing with pain reception. Studies have shown that individuals with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to pain even at a chemical level, so this theory is not completely unfounded.
There is reduced threshold in fibromyalgia patients. They are more sensitized to pain and pain signals.
Problems getting enough sleep or spending enough time in the deepest stages of sleep are common in this disorder. But doctors aren’t sure if this is a symptom or a cause of fibromyalgia. Abnormal sleep patterns can affect the levels of some brain chemicals.
Fibromyalgia can run in families. It’s likely that there’s an unidentified genetic abnormality that increases certain people’s risk for the condition. Certain genes may control the way the body regulates pain responses. Scientists speculate that people with fibromyalgia carry one or more genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that another person may not perceive as painful.
Hormones such as serotonin, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and dopamine help your body to process pain. Lower-than-normal levels of these hormones in the brain and nervous system may interrupt pain signals and intensify your sensitivity to them.
Persistent peripheral pain generators (spinal and/ or peripheral
arthritis, tendinopathies and myofascial trigger points)
Sleep disorders (obstructive sleep apnoea, restless legs and periodic limb movement disorder)
Obesity (with consequent pain-sensitising effects of meta-inflammation)
Catastrophising cognitive style
Psychosocial stressors d