Is Fibromyalgia Autoimmune in Nature?
For years, researchers have studied the connection between fibromyalgia syndrome and autoimmune diseases, exploring whether it could be an autoimmune-related disorder. Recently, new studies have shed light on this connection – suggesting that there may be an autoimmune component to the disease after all.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what these findings mean for those living with fibromyalgia.
How Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune Disorders Are Alike
Fibromyalgia and autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, share many of the same symptoms, including chronic pain, fatigue, neurological problems, digestive issues, and more. Although there is no known cause for fibromyalgia, some researchers believe that there may be an autoimmune component to it.
Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells and tissues, leading to inflammation. Fibromyalgia may be a form of autoimmunity in which the body’s immune system is not attacking its own cells but instead misinterprets sensory input as pain signals, resulting in chronic widespread pain.
A recent study conducted by researchers at Stanford University found that people with fibromyalgia have higher levels of antibodies, suggesting an autoimmune component. In addition, research has also suggested that certain environmental triggers such as infections or stress can worsen fibromyalgia symptoms and trigger flares in people who have the condition.
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How Fibromyalgia Differs from Autoimmune Disorders
Fibromyalgia and autoimmune disorders are similar in many ways, but there are some important differences. While both conditions involve inflammation, the cause of inflammation is different for each. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks its own cells and tissues, leading to inflammation. In fibromyalgia, it is thought that the body’s nervous system misinterprets sensory input, leading to inflammation.
Furthermore, fibromyalgia does not involve any damage to the body’s organs or tissues, as is seen in autoimmune disorders. While both conditions can cause chronic pain and fatigue, autoimmune diseases generally have more severe symptoms that can significantly affect a person’s quality of life. On the other hand, fibromyalgia typically does not cause irreparable damage to the body and is generally manageable with lifestyle changes, exercise, and medications.
As research continues to uncover more information about fibromyalgia, it seems more likely that there may be an autoimmune component to the condition.
Evidence That Fibromyalgia May be Autoimmune in Nature
Recent research has shed light on the debate surrounding fibromyalgia’s autoimmune nature, with some studies suggesting that it could be an autoimmune-related disorder. One of the most significant pieces of evidence is a 2021 study that discovered pain-causing antibodies in people with fibromyalgia. These antibodies affected pain-sensing nerves and caused an enhanced sensitivity to pain and cold, muscle weakness, reduced movement, and a reduced number of small-nerve fibres in the skin.
The study also confirms that inflammation — another trademark of autoimmune disease — is present in people with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia patients were found to have elevated levels of cytokines, which are molecules released by the immune system when it’s activated and are often seen in autoimmune conditions.
While further research is necessary to conclusively answer whether fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder, these are promising steps toward understanding the condition more fully and potentially developing novel treatment strategies.
Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Autoimmune Treatments
While autoimmune treatments are promising and may be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia, they come with their own set of risks and side effects. Autoimmune therapies can have significant side effects, including increased risk of infection, increased risk of cancer, and even organ damage. It is important to weigh the possible benefits against the risks before starting any treatment plan.
In conclusion, although research suggests that there may be an autoimmune component to fibromyalgia, we need further research to confirm the theory. Moreover, as we said, autoimmune treatments come with their own set of risks and may not be recommended by your healthcare provider. It is best to consult a medical professional before beginning any new treatment plan for fibromyalgia.
Getting Relief Now
There are many recommended treatment strategies for the devastating symptoms of fibromyalgia. At Native Formulas, we understand the frustration and challenges that come with living with this disease.
We’re here to help.
Whether you need support through your journey, resources to help you decide where to go next, or just to know that you’re not alone.
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