Dec 182013

By Karen Weintraub
Special for USA TODAY

Fibromyalgia affects 1% to 5% of Americans, mainly women, but until recently, scientists had no idea what might be causing its severe and mysterious pains. For decades, doctors told patients their agony was imaginary, the result of emotional hysteria, not a physical ailment.

But this year, researchers finally began to get a handle on the condition.

“What’s happened is in 2013 there’s been this absolute explosion of papers,” says neurologist Anne Louise Oaklander at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “The whole view on this has shifted.”

Oaklander published two studies this year showing that half or more of the cases of fibromyalgia are really a little-known condition affecting the nerves. People with this small-fiber neuropathy get faulty signals from tiny nerves all over the body, including internal organs, causing an odd constellation of symptoms from pain to sleep and digestive problems that overlap with symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Neuroscientist Frank Rice and a team based at Albany Medical College also discovered that there are excessive nerve fibers lining the blood vessels of the skin of fibromyalgia patients – removing any doubt that the condition is physically real.

These fibers in the skin can sense blood flow and control the dilation and constriction of vessels to regulate body temperature, Rice says, as well as direct nutrients to muscles during exercise. Women have more of these fibers than men, he says, perhaps explaining why they are much more likely to get fibromyalgia.

“Blood vessel nerve fibers are an important target that haven’t been in our line of thinking to date in chronic pain conditions,” says Rice, now president and chief scientist at Integrated Tissue Dynamics LLC, a biotechnology research company in Rensselaer, N.Y.

In recent years, scans of patients with fibromyalgia have revealed brain changes associated with pain, but the new research suggests these are a symptom rather than the cause of the condition. Read the full article…

Aug 072013

How to be a better friend, spouse or relative to someone with FM or a chronic pain condition.

Do you know someone who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (FM) or a chronic pain illness?  Perhaps they are disabled from working due to several conditions associated with these illnesses. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to expect of yourself and the person you care about with the chronic illness.  Perhaps the following practical suggestions can help you better support your friend, spouse, or relative who has FM or a chronic pain condition.

Educate Yourself

FM is a pain amplification condition. One’s central nervous system is sensitized to experience a lot more pain than others would under similar conditions. For instance, for someone with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other conditions, those conditions are much more painful for them than for someone who doesn’t have FM. It’s as if the “pain switches of the brain get locked on.” As you educate yourself, you’ll be less likely to blunder into saying things like, “It’s all in your head.” (Medical research has shown, for instance, that there is more Substance P [which facilitates the transmission of pain] in FM patients’ spinal cords. Also, they have significantly reduced dopamine synthesis in multiple brain regions.)

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May 102013

National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) Launches National “CARE & Make Fibromyalgia Visible” Campaign, May 2013

The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA), a global community supporting individuals living with fibromyalgia (FM) and other chronic pain illnesses, announces the kick-off of its national awareness campaign “CARE & Make Fibromyalgia Visible,” Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, Sunday, May 12, 2013 — and throughout the month of May. NFMCPA calls upon individuals living with FM and their friends, family and caregivers to contribute, advocate, participate in research, as well as to educate others about fibromyalgia, a common illness involving long-term, body-wide pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, memory problems and impaired functionality.

“We have had an overwhelmingly positive response to this campaign — with thousands of people participating in events across the country — validating our conviction that chronic pain, including fibromyalgia, is a public health crisis,” says Jan Favero Chambers, president and founder, NFMCPA. “It’s critical that those living with chronic pain raise their collective voices in order to turn the tide against the often devastating impact of chronic pain on individuals, families, communities and the nation.”

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia (FM), interdisciplinary team approaches that include medications, alternative therapies and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms. Women are much more likely than men to develop FM, according to the Mayo Clinic. Appropriately, Fibromyalgia Awareness Day takes place over Mother’s Day weekend and includes:

  • Thunderclap, Midnight, May 11, 2013: individuals worldwide will concurrently post the “CARE & Make Fibromyalgia Visible” logo via Facebook and Twitter.
  • The Walk to CURE FM: numerous walks throughout the country.
  • Fibromyalgia Proclamations & Declarations: outreach program encourages officials to declare May 12 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day in their jurisdiction. To address controversies, prejudices and the life-altering effect of fibromyalgia, NFMCPA offers:
  • FM patient education, including symptom management
  • Coordinated advocacy for research for new treatments

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Jacqueline Goguen‘s insight:

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, Sunday, May 12, 2013 and throughout the month of May


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Apr 192013

Study shows brief pet therapy in a physician’s waiting room significantly reduces fibromyalgia pain, fatigue, and other symptoms…

Jacqueline Goguen‘s insight:

I don’t have a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia but know that my companion, Déjà, a Shihtzu, has done wonders for my mental and emotional state when dealing with my chronic pain. There is nothing that can compare to the unconditional love our furry companions bring into our lives.

Do you have an animal companion that helps you with managing your chronic pain? Share your story in the comments section.


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