What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Unfortunately, we still have no answer to this question. Until now, researchers haven’t been able to trace the pain of fibromyalgia back to any kind of root cause, neither physical nor neurological.
Some studies suggest, however, that fibromyalgia patients suffer from chemical imbalances that leave them more sensitive to pain signals.
Studies have shown,
for example, that fibromyalgia patients suffer from decreased levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating and processing pain, sleep, mood, energy levels, and much more.
Serotonin deficiency is known to produce a number of symptoms, many of which overlap with those of fibromyalgia. People with low levels of serotonin, for example, are known to suffer from fatigue and sleep problems, anxiety, depression, mood disorders, temperature fluctuations, and more.
Studies examining the cerebrospinal fluid of fibromyalgia patients have also found
elevated levels of Substance P, a neuropeptide responsible for regulating the body’s pain threshold. These elevated levels of Substance P could be what cause fibromyalgia patients to feel pain more intensely than people who don’t have the condition.
Other research also shows
that fibromyalgia patients have significantly higher levels of Nerve Growth Factor, another neurotransmitter that also plays a key role in the processing of pain signals.
Studies in which human muscles were injected with Nerve Growth Factor showed that the heightened levels of NGF caused long-lasting hyperalgesia and allodynia. Again, the fact that fibromyalgia patients have heightened levels of NGF could be responsible for causing some of their symptoms.
Fibromyalgia patients have also been shown
to suffer from abnormally low levels of dopamine. Moreover, a number of follow-up studies showed that fibromyalgia patients responded positively to drugs that bind to dopamine receptors in the brain. Again, these low levels of dopamine could be a source of some of the symptoms that fibromyalgia causes.
Besides these chemical imbalances, doctors also have reason to believe that fibromyalgia might be genetic, as it is often seen to run in families. However, no specific gene has yet been identified and linked with this condition.