ABC News reported today on a study at the University of Alabama which found decreased blood flow to areas of the brain which deal with pain and twice the normal level of a brain chemical called Substance P in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The study was presented on Wednesday by Dr. Lawrence Bradley at a National Institutes of Health conference on pain and gender. Bradley theorized that the elevated level of Substance P, a brain chemical which helps nervous system cells communicate with each other, may be what causes the heightened levels of pain throughout the body that fibromyalgia sufferers experience. Bradley called Substance P “a burglar alarm which normally goes off in the body in response to certain kinds of signals. But in patients with fibromyalgia, benign signals are making them go off as well.”
Bradley, a pain management specialist who is also a psychiatrist, said that 8 percent of all women suffer from fibromyalgia, and that 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients are women. He also said that patients should not believe that their mysterious pain symptoms mean that they are “crazy,” and that doctors should not attribute their fibromyalgia patients’ pain to psychological disorders. “That perception is beginning to change now that we can show distinctly different brain function that is not evident in patients with depression,” he said.
The ABC News article said that research into possible treatment for fibromyalgia includes an investigation into the effect of antidepressants on cerebral blood flow and injecting toxins into precise places in the spine to block pain without the use of narcotics.
SOURCE: ABC News