Sometimes, when people ask me what fibromyalgia is I draw a blank. I find myself attempt to filter through a plethora of information. Where do I even begin!? The purpose of this post is to help both of us make sense of a very complex and frustrating disorder that can be understood; mainly for ourselves.
Not only is fibromyalgia complex; it is also very difficult to comprehend. Scientists know it affects the nervous system, so as a result, has the potential to affect almost every area of the body. There are multiple dysfunctions occurring in the body due to a dysregulated nervous system. What is also dysregulated, is how the body and the brain process pain and other types of stimuli. Those of us with this insensible condition experience pain without an obvious cause that can travel throughout the body quite spontaneously.
Scientific studies prove evidence of fibromyalgia by explaining their findings using complicated medical terms such as neurotransmitter dysregulation, nociceptors, mitochondrial dysfunction, central nervous system immune cells, cytokines, microglial cells, and more! As well, brain scans of fibromyalgia patients reveal a very different picture than those of healthy people. More specifically, these differences are found in the amygdala, hippocampus, and brain stem. No wonder fibromyalgia is so complicated and we have trouble understanding what is happening to our bodies!
In simple terms, cells within our nervous systems are sending too many messages to our brains. These messages or signals are processed by a chemical called serotonin. We are low in serotonin and other chemicals, so the brain becomes overwhelmed and can not process these signals. We also have substances in our brain that are amplified by our senses (light, noise, odour,smell, taste). The abnormal levels of substances and hormones in our bodies and brains create a highly sensitive and overstimulated environment. It is no wonder we need to wear sunglasses at the grocery store, avoid walking by a perfume shop, and cringe at the sound of a yapping dog!
To make fibromyalgia even more complex, science proves we have inflammation in our bodies and in our central nervous system. The central nervous system (CNS) is made up of the nerves in the spinal cord and the brain. The immune molecules called chemokines that are found in the CNS are high in those of us with fibromyalgia. Also, molecules from the immune system, called cytokines are high, therefore; our immune systems are not regulated.
To summarize, we are managing very widespread dysfunction in our bodies and a brain that is unable to process the mayhem of these dysfunctional systems. Our bodies are constantly fighting to be homeostatic, which is an incredible amount of work! Is it any wonder we’re fatigued? Are things starting to make some sense?
I know that doing the research required before writing this post helped me recognize some of the confusion behind this unpredictable and relentless condition. I hope it has helped you too.
Please feel free to leave a comment. If you have any questions or would like me to elaborate on anything, please don’t hesitate to ask. Furthermore, if there are any related topics you would like to see posts on, please do let me know.
Until next time,