About Half of Fibromyalgia Patients Exhibit Nerve Damage

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neural_circuitsA new study on a group of patients with fibromyalgia (a common syndrome that causes, among other symptoms, chronic and sometimes debilitating pain) showed that roughly half of the patients were found to have a type of nerve damage known as SFPN. Small fiber polyneuropathy, or SFPN, consists mainly of damage to nerve fibers in the skin.

The study might provide some insight into the possible causes and pathology of fibromyalgia, which, while recognized by the American College of Rheumatology and the National Institute of Health, is poorly understood. At present, the term fibromyalgia is used to describe a specific set of symptoms – including chronic widespread pain, fatigue, bowel disturbances, and increased sensitivity to pressure, lights and sounds.

The study was originally designed to investigate a possible correlation between fibromyalgia and SFPN, which share some of the same symptoms. Twenty-seven patients with diagnosed fibromyalgia, along with thirty healthy adult volunteers, comprised the study. During the process, patients underwent the thorough battery of tests used to diagnose SFPN. (Unlike fibromyalgia, there are set evaluations and tests for small fiber polyneuropathy.)

The study concluded that 13 of the 27 fibromyalgia patients met the criteria for nerve damage, including a reduction in their nerve fiber densities. The study is a huge step towards learning more about a common syndrome that affects millions of patients every year, but which remains poorly understood.

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