Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About MyFibroTeam

Brain Scans Suggest Pain of Fibromyalgia Isn't Imaginary

Posted on October 09, 2018

"There's a heck of a lot of stigma associated with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia. I think it's going to make a lot of people feel much better to know that there are physiologic changes you can find."


By Serena Gordon, HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- People with fibromyalgia have widespread inflammation in their brains, new research reveals.

"Finding an objective neurochemical change in the brains of people who are used to being told that their problems are imaginary is pretty important," explained senior study author Marco Loggia. He is associate director of the Center for Integrative Pain Neuroimaging at Harvard Medical School.

The new research used an advanced imaging test called positron emission tomography (PET) and looked at 31 people with fibromyalgia and 27 healthy "controls" from Boston and Stockholm, Sweden.

Dr. Harry Gewanter, a master of the American College of Rheumatology, agreed the findings could bring comfort to patients.

"There's a heck of a lot of
stigma associated with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia. I think it's going to make a lot of people feel much better to know that there are physiologic changes you can find," Gewanter said.

Fibromyalgia causes pain throughout the body, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition also causes sleep problems, fatigue
and difficulty with thinking and memory.

The disorder affects about 4 million Americans, the CDC reports. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, though the researchers said it's likely a disease of the central nervous system. Medications and lifestyle modifications can help manage the condition.

All of the volunteers in the study underwent PET scans. Fibromyalgia patients in Boston were heavier than the healthy controls in Boston, and those in Stockholm with fibromyalgia. The researchers said this was the only significantly different variable between the two groups.


When the researchers compared the scans of people with fibromyalgia to healthy controls, they saw more inflammation in the connective tissue in the brain (glia) in people with fibromyalgia.

Loggia said the findings might lead to better ways to test fibromyalgia treatments, to see if they reduce inflammation. It's also possible that this finding may eventually help researchers tease out the cause of the disorder.

Gewanter said this study gives scientists a number of possible directions to go. One is to be able to follow a treatment to see how well it works. Another is possibly developing ways to intervene with new treatments.

Now, treatment focuses on medication and lifestyle changes. According to the CDC, people with fibromyalgia are encouraged to try to exercise 30 minutes daily most days of the week. And establishing regular sleep habits can help, as can reducing stress as much as possible, perhaps using yoga or meditation.

The study was published recently in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved.

Here are some question-and-answer threads from MyFibroTeam:

I have a friend who does not understand my fatigue level. The thing that upsets me is she says 'just drink an energy drink' on a consistent basis. I've tried to explain it is not the same thing as just being 'tired.' Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle these scenarios?

How do you explain how things affect you to others?

Does anyone else feel that their fibro symptoms have gotten progressively worse over the years?

Here are some conversations from MyFibroTeam:

"I have had many unpleasant experiences with doctors pre-post-diagnosis. I changed doctors after 5 years of complaining about recurring symptoms, one doctor implied I was moaning over imaginary symptoms."

"Tomorrow I will be back at work. I’ll make the best of it but I’ve decided not to fake being well. They want me back at work I’m letting them see what this looks like. No fake bounce in my step no forced smile no pretty face."

"I had to use my walking stick at work, which I felt embarrassed about. I’m worried people will think I’m faking it. No one helped me or asked me how I was."

Have you struggled to make others believe your fibromyalgia pain is real?

Share in the comments below or directly on MyFibroTeam.

A MyFibroTeam Member said:

Its hard coping with the pain alone ive cryed to myself before now with frustration no one understands my family look at me sometimes with the… read more

posted 5 days ago

hug

Recent articles

Thousands of members of MyFibroTeam connect with one another and read each other's stories to...

Four Books About Fibromyalgia You Should Read

Thousands of members of MyFibroTeam connect with one another and read each other's stories to...
Article written by Kelly Crumrin Those of us living with pre-existing, chronic conditions such as...

Canceling Is Kindness: Keeping Safe From COVID-19 With Fibromyalgia

Article written by Kelly Crumrin Those of us living with pre-existing, chronic conditions such as...
Could You Have Spondyloarthritis? People with spondyloarthritis, a form of inflammatory arthritis...

QUIZ: Could I Have Spondyloarthritis?

Could You Have Spondyloarthritis? People with spondyloarthritis, a form of inflammatory arthritis...
Eat healthier. Exercise more. Learn a new skill. Pay off a credit card. Many of us have made...

Setting Intentions for 2020 With Fibromyalgia

Eat healthier. Exercise more. Learn a new skill. Pay off a credit card. Many of us have made...
This time of the year can be overwhelming with expectations around the holidays, and living with...

Practicing Gratitude with Fibromyalgia

This time of the year can be overwhelming with expectations around the holidays, and living with...
Living with fibromyalgia may change your holidays, but you can still have enjoyable and...

How to Enjoy the Holidays Despite Fibromyalgia

Living with fibromyalgia may change your holidays, but you can still have enjoyable and...
When you have fibromyalgia, it can be challenging to get a good night’s sleep. Insomnia, sleep...

Fibromyalgia and Insomnia

When you have fibromyalgia, it can be challenging to get a good night’s sleep. Insomnia, sleep...
We all respond differently to information about our health. After learning you have fibromyalgia,...

You’ve Just Been Diagnosed With Fibromyalgia. Now What?

We all respond differently to information about our health. After learning you have fibromyalgia,...
If you’re experiencing frequent itching with fibromyalgia, you’re not alone. MyFibroTeam members...

Itching with Fibromyalgia

If you’re experiencing frequent itching with fibromyalgia, you’re not alone. MyFibroTeam members...
Members of MyFibroTeam search for ways to increase their energy as they battle fatigue, one of...

Increasing Energy with Fibromyalgia

Members of MyFibroTeam search for ways to increase their energy as they battle fatigue, one of...
MyFibroTeam My fibromyalgia Team

Two Ways to Get Started with MyFibroTeam

Become a Member

Connect with others who are living with fibromyalgia. Get members only access to emotional support, advice, treatment insights, and more.

sign up

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about fibromyalgia sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
MyFibroTeam My fibromyalgia Team

Thank you for signing up.

close