After decades of struggling to identify a cause, researchers are increasingly identifying certain changes in nervous system function as the cause of fibromyalgia. These changes, which occur as the result of a process known as central sensitization, cause fibromyalgia patients to experience pain more intensely than they had before.
People with fibromyalgia also tend to experience other symptoms, such as chronic fatigue and difficulty concentrating (“fibro fog”). While further research is needed, many promising studies have shown that changes in nervous system function are likely to be the cause of these symptoms as well.
To me, the terms “chronic pain” and “fibromyalgia” do not necessarily represent separate medical conditions. Instead, they describe sets of symptoms that lie along the same continuum– all stemming back to central nervous system function.
The reason I made a separate section on my blog to discuss fibromyalgia is because I realize that this word plays a very unique role in the online community. Entire support networks have been built up around this word; patients who have been brushed off by doctors have found each other and shared information about treatments and moral support.
Therefore, when I use the word fibromyalgia instead of chronic pain, it is not because I think the science behind each is different. It is because, to me, the word fibromyalgia has very unique connotations in terms of the way people understand their symptoms, and in the way they pursue treatment.
I hope you find the resources I offer on my blog to be helpful. For more information, check out:
- Do you need to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia to be successfully treated?
- History of fibromyalgia as a diagnosis
- Inflammation, Fibromyalgia, and Deceptive Marketing Tactics
- Someday there will be a test for fibromyalgia
- Super informative video lecture from Dr. Sean Mackey of Stanford University on the causes of fibromyalgia