Researchers have discovered the main source of pain in patients with fibromyalgia, and contrary to what many believe, do not derive from the brain. The results mark the end of a decades-long mystery about the disease, which many doctors believed was a figment of patients’ imaginations.The mystery of fibromyalgia has left millions of people suffering looking for hope in pain medications.Until recently, many doctors thought the disease was “imaginary” or psychological, but scientists have now revealed that the main source of pain results from an excess of sensory nerve fibers present around the blood vessels located in the palms of the hands.
The discovery could lead to new treatments and perhaps even a full cure in the future, bringing relief to millions of people suspected of having this disease.To solve the mystery of fibromyalgia, the researchers focused attention on the skin of a patient’s hand who had a lack of sensory nerve fibers, which caused a reduced reaction to pain.They then took samples of the skin from the hands of patients with fibromyalgia, and were surprised to find an extremely excessive amount of a certain type of nerve fiber.Scientists previously thought that these fibers were only responsible for regulating blood flow, and that they did not play any role in the pain sensation, but now they have discovered that there is a direct link between these nerves and generalized body pain.
The finding may also resolve the lingering question of why many patients have extremely painful hands as well as other “sensitive points” throughout the body, and because cold weather seems to aggravate the symptoms. In addition to feeling widespread deep pain, many patients with fibromyalgia also suffer from debilitating fatigue.Neuroscientist Dr. Frank L. Rice explained: “We previously thought that these nerve endings were only involved in regulating blood flow on a subconscious level, but we now have evidence that the endings of the blood vessels can also contribute to our conscious sense touch, and pain, “Rice said.“This poorly administered blood flow can be the source of muscle pain and fatigue in patients with fibromyalgia.”Current treatments for the disease have not brought complete relief to the millions of people who suffer. Therapies include narcotic analgesics; anti-convulsive medications, anti-depressants and even simple advice, such as “sleeping more and exercising regularly.”Now that the cause of fibromyalgia has been identified, patients are eager for an eventual cure.