Fibromyalgia affects up to four million adults in the U.S. alone. Unfortunately, fibromyalgia has no cure, and those who suffer from this chronic condition are only offered treatments that work to reduce symptoms to improve their quality of life.
As researchers continue to study this perplexing condition, they discover new connections between fibromyalgia and the immune system.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that healthcare providers still struggle to understand. Symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to many other illnesses and include:
- Muscle and bone pain
- Sensitivity and tenderness
- Sleep disruptions
- Brain fog
There are no tests to diagnose fibromyalgia definitively, so the condition is often misdiagnosed.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
While the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, researchers are getting closer to understanding the condition through its connection to the immune system.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, both autoimmune diseases, are more likely to have fibromyalgia. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body mistakenly unleashes its immune response against the healthy cells of organs and tissues.
Fibromyalgia can occur in conjunction with other autoimmune diseases. Additionally, fibromyalgia symptoms like fatigue and brain fog often overlap with autoimmune disorders.
These factors led researchers to theorize that fibromyalgia may be an autoimmune disorder, even though it doesn’t cause inflammation, a common symptom of autoimmune diseases.
In a recent study, mice injected with auto-antibodies from people with fibromyalgia began to experience fibromyalgia-like symptoms. This new development may lead to new tests to diagnose fibromyalgia and new treatments for those suffering from the condition.
Living with Fibromyalgia
Patients with fibromyalgia suffer from the pain, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with the condition, in addition to common social misconceptions. While fibromyalgia doesn’t have a cure, symptoms are often well-managed through diet and exercise, medications, alternative therapies, and stress relief.
Patients are exploring regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, to help manage their symptoms experienced with fibromyalgia or an autoimmune condition. Stem cells are the building blocks and, specifically, mesenchymal stem cells have the regenerative properties to differentiate into any cell type while also addressing pain and inflammation within the body.