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What Research Is Being Conducted on Fibromyalgia?

  [ 5 votes ]   [ 5 Comments ]
www.ProHealth.com • May 10, 2017


What Research Is Being Conducted on Fibromyalgia?
This information comes from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) sponsors research that will improve scientists’ understanding of the specific problems that cause or accompany fibromyalgia, in turn helping them develop better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent this syndrome.

The research on fibromyalgia supported by the NIAMS covers a broad spectrum, ranging from basic laboratory research to studies of medications and interventions designed to encourage behaviors that reduce pain and change behaviors that worsen or perpetuate pain.

Following are descriptions of some of the promising research now being conducted:

Understanding pain. Research suggests that fibromyalgia is caused by a problem in how the body processes pain, or more precisely, a hypersensitivity to stimuli that normally are not painful. Therefore, several National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported researchers are focusing on ways the body processes pain to better understand why people with fibromyalgia have increased pain sensitivity. These studies include:
  • The establishment of a tissue bank of brain and spinal cord tissue to study fibromyalgia and to determine the extent to which chronic pain in fibromyalgia patients is associated with the activation of cells in the nervous system and the production of chemical messengers, called cytokines, that regulate immune cell function.

  • The use of imaging methods to evaluate the status of central nervous system responses in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia compared with those diagnosed with another chronic pain disorder and pain-free controls.

  • An investigation to understand how the activation of immune cells from peripheral and central nervous system sources trigger a cascade of events leading to the activation of nerve cells, chronic pain, and the dysregulation of the effects of analgesic drugs against pain.

  • An intensive evaluation of twins in which one of the pair has chronic widespread pain and the other does not, along with twins in which neither of the pair has chronic pain, to help researchers assess physiological similarities and differences in those with and without chronic pain and whether those differences are caused by genetics or environment.

  • A study examining the use of cognitive behavioral therapy in pain patients, which researchers hope will advance their knowledge of the role of psychological factors in chronic pain as well as a new treatment option for fibromyalgia.

  • The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) initiative. The PROMIS initiative is researching and developing new ways to measure patient-reported outcomes (PROs), such as pain, fatigue, physical functioning, emotional distress, and social role participation that have a major impact on quality of life across a variety of chronic diseases. The goal of this initiative is to improve the reporting and quantification of changes in PROs. The NIAMS supports an effort to develop PROMIS specifically for use in patients with fibromyalgia.

Improving Symptoms. A better understanding of fibromyalgia and the mechanisms involved in chronic pain are enabling researchers to find effective treatments for it. Some of the most promising lines of research in this area include the following:
  • Increasing exercise. Although fibromyalgia is often associated with fatigue that makes exercise difficult, regular exercise has been shown to be one of the most beneficial treatments for the condition. Researchers are trying to determine whether increasing lifestyle physical activity (that is, adding more exercise such as walking up stairs instead of taking the elevator) throughout the day produces similar benefits to exercise for fibromyalgia, improving symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and tenderness. Scientists are also examining the potential mechanisms by which lifestyle physical activity might influence symptoms. Other research supported by the NIAMS is examining the effectiveness of a simplified form of Tai Chi on pain and other measures such as sleep quality, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.

    NIAMS-supported research is also examining ways to help people maintain helpful exercise programs. Because many people with fibromyalgia associate increased exercise with increased pain, doctors and therapists often have a difficult time getting patients to stick with their exercise program. The new research is examining patients’ fears that cause them to avoid exercise as well as behavioral therapies to reduce fears and help them maintain exercise.
  • Improving sleep. Researchers supported by the NIAMS are investigating ways to improve sleep for people with fibromyalgia whose sleep problems persist despite treatment with medications. One team has observed that fibromyalgia patients with persistent sleep problems share characteristics with people who have sleep-disordered breathing—a group of disorders, the most common of which is the obstructive sleep apnea, characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. These researchers are studying whether continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP, a therapy administered by a machine that increases air pressure in the throat to hold it open during sleep) might improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

    Other groups of researchers are examining the link between sleep disturbance and chronic pain in fibromyalgia and are studying whether behavioral therapy for insomnia might improve fibromyalgia symptoms.

More information on research is available from the following resources:
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Research Trials and You was designed to help people learn more about clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate. Visitors to the website will find information about the basics of participating in a clinical trial, first-hand stories from clinical trial volunteers, explanations from researchers, and links on how to search for a trial or enroll in a research-matching program.

  • ClinicalTrials.gov offers up-to-date information for locating federally and privately supported clinical trials for a wide range of diseases and conditions.

  • NIH RePORTER is an electronic tool that allows users to search a repository of both intramural and extramural NIH-funded research projects from the past 25 years and access publications (since 1985) and patents resulting from NIH funding.

  • PubMed is a free service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that lets you search millions of journal citations and abstracts in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, and preclinical sciences.


The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases is to support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research; and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases.




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Article Comments Post a Comment

Exercise and bad attitudes!
Posted by: IanH
May 10, 2017
"The new research is examining patients’ fears that cause them to avoid exercise as well as behavioral therapies to reduce fears and help them maintain exercise."

Is this the main reason why people with FM lapse their exercise program?

Really? I don't think so! For a clinician to tie worsening symptoms to a fear of exercise is fallacious. The most common reason is relapse, sometimes caused by overdoing it, going outside the appropriate envelope. The same reason why people with ME/CFS most commonly relapse. However relapse can occur for other reasons. Most are related to "functional modulation failure". This can occur as a result of diet, toxic exposure, interpersonal stress and other pain sources being elevated, such as back pain.

Once an exercise program is interrupted its hard to recover and get back on track, Why? Fibromyalgia involves considerable fatigue, it feels like you weigh a ton and the subjective effort required to lift your leg is extreme.

Some people find that exercise is a small help, not the benefit that the doctor is proclaiming so the motivation to go through the arduous, painful program is lacking.

Taking drugs that reduce pain can be dis-incentive to exercise. I know several people with FM who have responded to their drugs quite well and find that exercise does little more than the drugs are already doing - so why bother? This is especially so if people have both FM and ME/CFS (at least 40%). It is more understood why people with ME/CFS avoid exercise. Of course exercise is helpful to EVERYONE but managing the program can be a challenge.
Reply Reply

Research on Fibromyalgia
Posted by: rakiethebird
May 11, 2017
The fact that fibromyalgia is still a responsibility of NIAMS demonstrates the lack of interest in the scientific community to make substantive and real headway in dealing with it. It is neither an "arthritic" or "musculo-skeletal disorder". Basic research puts it firmly within the discipline of neurological disorders. So why hasn't the responsibility been transferred to National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)?
Reply Reply

comments on wether Exercise Improves Fibro and ME
Posted by: bronwyn_pease@bigpond.com
May 26, 2017
I agree with the last paragraph: I feel I am well controlled with my pain meds, but still have the "big" issue of No Energy to do the exercise that is recommended. I also know that I am getting worse with this issue over time. (haning the washing out has rven become enough to make me sit down again). I know I sleep well with my medications assisting me, but still the Energy is dcreasing.
Yes there is the issue of "fear" of doing some things, as I know there is always a rebound of some sort. I am now even experiencing the fear of driving/doing a grocery shop, as this can lead to a severe Migraine (which then of course can take another few days to get over, and also the pain from using muscles to vomit, becomes a LOT worse.) Hence, the cycle continues. To find answers to Increasing our Energy levels would be much more advantageous for me, than trying to find more Fibro medications, as at least then I would have a life outside my home. Thankyou for this chance to comment.
Reply Reply

I suffer from all and more
Posted by: Becbudha
Jun 6, 2017
I found this article helpful and interesting however it's very frustrating for me. I'll explain in as many words less that I can. I was diagnosed back starting age 27, after having lots of pain not being able to walk use hands sleep etc. As time went on I had reconstructed wrists both, left ankle and pronator syndrome which led to surgery. I started volunteering for research back then following same Drs for 20 years. Since the start in total I've had over 20 surgeries, was told I had Reiters, Psoriatic arthritis, connective tissue disease, Sjogrens, Fibrosis cystic disease, IBS, Fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, and few other things. The new things like two more arthritis's etc among other things. So my point here is after years of unpaid volunteering for help with trying to figure how to deal with this and now surviving the obvious , I've gone to research facilities for research and they've pushed me away! I know I'm one of original candidates for fibro I met the man who found the disease and my doctor has done research for the arthritis foundation for as long as I can remember.
So with this said I don't know what to believe or trust from them. I do know finding a good well informed dr in this field with my issues is rare! They don't train them for what we're going through. Only a handful know. Since moving across country I've searched everywhere and no luck. I can't get back fast enough.
So advice to anyone interested, find one of the rare Drs and be your own best advocate, nutritionist, keep diaries on anything that changes or foods you eat and how they make you feel. Be aware of your stress and seek peacefulness, it helps a lot. Good luck! ??
Reply Reply

I suffer from all and more
Posted by: Becbudha
Jun 6, 2017
I found this article helpful and interesting however it's very frustrating for me. I'll explain in as many words less that I can. I was diagnosed back starting age 27, after having lots of pain not being able to walk use hands sleep etc. As time went on I had reconstructed wrists both, left ankle and pronator syndrome which led to surgery. I started volunteering for research back then following same Drs for 20 years. Since the start in total I've had over 20 surgeries, was told I had Reiters, Psoriatic arthritis, connective tissue disease, Sjogrens, Fibrosis cystic disease, IBS, Fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, and few other things. The new things like two more arthritis's etc among other things. So my point here is after years of unpaid volunteering for help with trying to figure how to deal with this and now surviving the obvious , I've gone to research facilities for research and they've pushed me away! I know I'm one of original candidates for fibro I met the man who found the disease and my doctor has done research for the arthritis foundation for as long as I can remember.
So with this said I don't know what to believe or trust from them. I do know finding a good well informed dr in this field with my issues is rare! They don't train them for what we're going through. Only a handful know. Since moving across country I've searched everywhere and no luck. I can't get back fast enough.
So advice to anyone interested, find one of the rare Drs and be your own best advocate, nutritionist, keep diaries on anything that changes or foods you eat and how they make you feel. Be aware of your stress and seek peacefulness, it helps a lot. Good luck! ??
Reply Reply


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