Researchers say pain from fibromyalgia is real

Not that it’s news to those of us who have it, but it’s good to be validated!

Fibromyal­gia often has been mis­di­ag­nosed as arthri­tis or even a psy­cho­log­i­cal issue. Increas­ing­ly, though, the sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge about fibromyal­gia is grow­ing, and a new paper from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Health Sys­tem says there are “over­whelm­ing data” that the con­di­tion is real, is char­ac­ter­ized by a low­er pain thresh­old and is asso­ci­at­ed with genet­ic fac­tors that can make some peo­ple more like­ly to devel­op fibromyalgia. … 

“It is time for us to move past the rhetoric about whether these con­di­tions are real, and take these patients seri­ous­ly as we endeav­or to learn more about the caus­es and most effec­tive treat­ments for these dis­or­ders,” says Richard E. Har­ris, Ph.D., research inves­ti­ga­tor in the Divi­sion of Rheuma­tol­ogy at the U‑M Med­ical School’s Depart­ment of Inter­nal Med­i­cine and a researcher at the U‑M Health Sys­tem’s Chron­ic Pain and Fatigue Research Center.

The name of one of the authors of the paper, Dr. Daniel J. Clauw, will be famil­iar to many of you from oth­er stud­ies on fibromyal­gia. He says that, “In peo­ple with­out pain, these struc­tures encode pain sen­sa­tions nor­mal­ly. In peo­ple with fibromyal­gia, the neur­al activ­i­ty increased. These stud­ies indi­cate that fibromyal­gia patients have abnor­mal­i­ties with­in their cen­tral brain structures.”

Sci­enceDai­ly: Pain From Fibromyal­gia Is Real, Researchers Say

The neurology of chronic pain

My Pain, My Brain by Melanie Thern­strom gives us a look at a study being done at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty. Sub­jects view an area of the brain that is involved in the per­cep­tion of pain via a func­tion­al mag­net­ic res­o­nance imag­ing (fMRI) machine, and under­go train­ing sim­i­lar to biofeed­back in which they prac­tice direct­ly con­trol­ling that part of the brain. Doing so can allow the sub­ject to con­trol the per­cep­tion of chron­ic pain.

Thern­strom touch­es on sev­er­al oth­er inter­est­ing stud­ies in the arti­cle, includ­ing Irene Tra­cy’s Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty study on the effects of dis­trac­tion on chron­ic pain.

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