CAUSES OF FIBROMYALGIA
HOW IT ALL STARTED
The exact cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown, and research into the cause is ongoing. If you have a look around the internet you will find quite a number of answers to the question ‘what causes Fibromyalgia’. Research to date has come up with a number of different theories, the most common of which are summarised below.
Problems with pain messages
One of the most likely causes of Fibromyalgia is a problem with the way that pain messages are carried and received in the body. It is thought that in people with Fibromyalgia, the central nervous system (which transmits messages to and from the brain) cannot process pain messages properly. This may be why Fibromyalgia results in constant feelings of pain and extreme sensitivity to pain.
The level of chemical in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) called substance P, which transmits pain impulses to the brain, is three times higher in people with FM than in those who do not have the condition. This likely causes someone with Fibromyalgia to experience pain more intensely.
Low levels of hormones
People with Fibromyalgia have been found to have lower than normal levels of the hormones serotonin, noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine) and dopamine. There have also been studies which have shown low levels of Melatonin (which is produced via Serotonin). This helps your body react to daytime and nighttime and act accordingly.
These hormones each play an important part in controlling many of the processes in the body. For example, serotonin helps to regulate your moods, your appetite, and the way that you sleep. Noradrenaline contributes to attention and your responses, and dopamine helps to control your mood and behaviour, and the way that you learn.
Some researchers think that disturbed sleep patterns may be a cause of Fibromyalgia, rather than just a symptom. It is during stage 4 sleep that muscles recover from the prior day's activity, and the body refreshes itself. Sleep studies show that as people with Fibromyalgia enter stage 4 sleep, they become more aroused and stay in a lighter form of sleep. Even though they may sleep for a long period of time, they get poor quality sleep
External factors and genetic predisposition
In many cases, Fibromyalgia develops after an external factor, such as an illness, injury, or operation. It is possible that these external factors may act like a trigger causing Fibromyalgia to occur. This assumes that there is some sort of predisposition to the illness.
Because Fibromyalgia tends to run in families, there may be certain genetic mutations that may make you more susceptible to developing the disorder.
Some believe that there are other conditions that can lead to Fibromyalgia. In these cases, the condition is known as secondary Fibromyalgia. Examples of these are:
- Joint hypermobility
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lyme Disease
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Hepatitis C
This list is not exhaustive