Have you ever stopped and actually thought about treatment options for fibromyalgia? There is no specific treatment route to treat fibromyalgia. It is often a trial-and-error process to see what works for each person. I often wonder why there is no specific treatment for fibromyalgia. You would think in this day and age there would be a solid treatment. It makes me wonder if there are missing pieces and connections in research and discoveries preventing this from happening.
I watched a video which featured Ginevra Liptan , a doctor in the United States. Liptan founded The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia. She shares that there is very little research being done on fibromyalgia due to lack of funding. She is also an author of The Fibro manual. If you haven’t already, I recommend reading this book. It has become a great source of information. I find myself referring back to it a lot. In this book, she begins by explaining when she was in medical school, she herself was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She treated many people with fibromyalgia at The Frida Center, but as of current she has focused her attention to fibromyalgia research instead of patient treatments.
In the video, she spoke of recent research and discoveries made in fibromyalgia studies. Liptan believes there are missing links in fibromyalgia research that are preventing new treatments from being discovered. In 2021, there was a study done on fibromyalgia and mice. They took antibodies from people who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia and injected the mice with these antibodies. The results are very interesting. I won’t go into detail of the study here, but I will include a few links at the bottom for you to read. The mouse study did not receive as much public attention due to the fact it took place during covid, and media releases were all covid related.
Fibromyalgia and the mouse study overview:
Researchers took blood samples from people with fibromyalgia and injected the IgG (antibodies that stay in your system) antibodies into mice. The mice were found to take on fibromyalgia symptoms that people with fibromyalgia often report as problematic. I find the findings very interesting. It sure makes you wonder what other undiscovered information about fibromyalgia is out there. They also took antibodies from people without fibromyalgia and injected these antibodies into mice to show the difference between the two groups of mice.
1. The mice appeared to be more sensitive to pain.
2. The mice were more sensitive to cold.
3. The mice were observed to have lower grip strength.
4. The mice showed decrease locomotive activity.
5. The mice showed reduced nerve fiber density in their skin.
6. Once the antibodies cleared from the mice after several weeks, fibromyalgia symptoms disappeared, and the mice returned back to normal.
7. The findings reporting in the study could indicate that fibromyalgia has an immune response and could possibly be an autoimmune condition. More research is needed to make these findings accurate.
Liptan explains in her video that the mice displayed pain-like behaviors. The mice showed that their nerves were hyper-excitable. The mice also had reduced activity meaning they were not walking around as much and appeared tired. Maybe their paws hurt so they didn’t move around as much. Nerve damage was also noted in their feet. Liptan continues to explain that the study also showed that the antibodies started to bind to a specific portion of the mices’ spinal cord – an area of the spinal cord which is important- where pain signals are interpreted by the brain. This study may help build the connection between the belief that in fibromyalgia there is a neurological component and an immune component. The new discoveries could help scientists understand what is going on in the muscles nerves and why our brain is hypersensitive to pain. Discoveries in the mouse study indicate there is an immune response component – making fibromyalgia an autoimmune disease.
We know fibromyalgia has existed for years, but I found it so hard to accept that there is no one test to diagnose fibromyalgia and to treat fibromyalgia. There has been a criteria list developed over the years that one must meet to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, but there is also lot of ruling out other conditions before diagnosis as well. I know the brain is powerful, but I find myself confused at the thought that the brain misinterpreting pain signals can cause so many other symptoms to arise. How can the brain cause rashes and skin conditions to form? Why do many people with fibromyalgia develop irritable bowel syndrome or have bloating issues to arise?! Why are those with fibromyalgia more susceptible to developing chronic dry eye? There are so many unanswered questions. There must be missing links.
Liptan goes on to explain with the new discoveries in the mouse study, she’s positive there will be more research on fibromyalgia taking place in the near future. She hopes this research will help form new treatment routes. Liptan shares, pharmaceutical companies need to see a target – something they can intervene in with a medication. If they see this target, they will put billions of dollars into researching. Liptan has already been contacted by a pharmaceutical company asking her opinion about a new medication being made to treat fibromyalgia. Combining what scientists already know and the new findings through recent studies will help unravel more accurate treatment options for fibromyalgia.
It brings hope of finding a better treatment closer to reality when new discoveries are made. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say one day, “i used to have fibromyalgia!”
Mouse Study Links:
- Here is Dr. Liptan’s video on research and the mouse study. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFQV6hoGS14