It’s frustrating that researchers and doctors don’t understand exactly why fibromyalgia hurts, how it works, or how to stop it. But occasionally I stumble upon an article that seems to make some sense. Like this one. Here’s an excerpt of it that struck a cord with me:
“They found that most of the fibromyalgia patients, but none of the controls, showed enlarged or ballooned Schwann cells. These cells, which look like a string of sausage links, encase the nerve fibers that connect your spinal cord to peripheral tissues like your skin and muscles. These fibers relay information from your tissues to your spinal cord, and vice versa…
How do ballooned Schwann cells impact your pain? They secrete pain-promoting cytokines that irritate nearby nerve fibers. The irritated nerve fibers in the skin then start relaying signals back to your spinal cord, saying, “Ouch … help me out!” But the cord fails to filter the signals and the brain shoots more transmissions back to the tissues. This process leaves you with painful skin, even though it looks normal. The same situation likely occurs in your muscles to make them ache.”
After I wrote this post, I was delighted to see that my friend at Sunlight in Winter had posted this about the history of fibromyalgia as a diagnosis. It’s a smart, succinct look at how far we’ve come (and how far we have to go) in understanding this illness. Will you take a look?