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Oakland Spine News

Fibromyalgia – “How Do I Know I Have It?”

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a condition where widespread generalized pain limits a person’s ability to function, sometimes to the point of complete disability. This month, we’ll look at identfying markers that may be used to determine whether a patient has FM or not.

Chronic pain that arises from the muscles and joints affects nearly 20% of the adult population, with the highest percentages found among females and those in lower income brackets. It is very challenging to determine “the cause” of chronic pain, probably because it is influenced by and interacts with various physical, emotional, psychological, and social factors. Several studies have reportedly shown that the levels of certain neurotransmitters (chemicals that help our nerves transmit information) including serotonin, glutamate, lactate, and pyruvate are elevated in patients with localized chronic myalgias (like FM) and therefore may be potential biomarkers for various conditions causing chronic pain. Unfortunately, elevations in these potential markers are not specific or unique to FM.

However, researchers have identified muscle alterations in in fibromyalgia / chronic widespread pain patients. More studies are needed to confirm these findings before they have the potential for use as a diagnostic criteria for FM.

For the time being, in order to establish a diagnosis of FM, we must rely on the following: