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Fibromyalgia Causes: Where Did This Pain Come From?

April 10, 2017 in Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition in which the pain receptors in the brain become hyper-sensitive, causing widespread discomfort, fatigue, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, tender points on the body and mood disorders. Fibromyalgia causes are not well understood, but a number of theories have been posed as to how the condition develops.

Existing Research on Fibromyalgia Causes

Medical experts generally agree that fibro is triggered by a number of factors. There appears to be a genetic component to the condition, with many people in the family developing the condition across generations. Individuals who develop fibro may have problems manufacturing serotonin, a brain chemical that helps produce calming effects known as "the body's natural painkillers."

The condition may develop after some type of trauma to the brain or spinal cord that leads to changes in the brain’s chemistry. Other theories speculate that poor sleep patterns lead to reduced serotonin levels that enhance the sensation of pain. Yet another theory suggests that hormonal changes can lead to disruptions of brain chemistry and the development of the condition.


Can Chemicals in the Brain Cause the Condition?

Experts feel that changes in biological brain chemistry are the primary reason why the condition develops and persists. Individuals with the condition produce measurably lower levels of serotonin, which can alter the perception of pain. However, a number of different factors may cause these changes.

Can Hormonal Changes Cause the Condition?

Hormonal changes appear to be related to a higher risk for developing the condition. Fluctuating hormone levels can cause disruptions in the normal production of brain chemicals, which can lead to an enhanced perception of pain.

Biochemical changes occur in the body during certain developmental periods like adolescence and late-adulthood. When women enter menopause their risk for developing fibro could heighten due to hormonal changes. Often individuals with fibromyalgia have lower than average levels of the human growth hormone. This correlation has been theorized to result in muscle pain.

Can Stress Cause the Condition?

Experts believe that a continued state of stress can lead to disruptions in the production of brain chemicals that can lead to the condition. The stress of a physical or emotional trauma is connected to a high risk for developing the condition.

Day-to-day stress can be just as detrimental as a singular traumatic event. Individuals who deal with poor physical conditions, high-stress jobs, anxiety, or other ongoing triggers that heighten their stress response, are at risk for developing fibro.

Can Sleep Disorders Cause the Condition?

Sleep disorders may play a part in the development of the condition. These disorders can cause lower production of serotonin. The condition itself can also cause problems with sleep because of chronic physical discomfort. The result is a cyclical pattern of sleep loss, sleep deprivation, and insomnia.

Consequently, the lack of sleep that fibromyalgia sufferers log in per night can worsen symptoms. Many fibromyalgia sufferers turn to medication or supplements like melatonin to help them drift off.

sleep with fibromyalgia

Can Mental Health Issues Cause the Condition?

Lower serotonin levels in the brain are also associated with some mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. However, it is now believed that it is more likely that the isolation of dealing with chronic pain and other problems result in the depression and anxiety, rather than other way around.

Scientists and researchers speculate depression as a possible causation but ultimately settled that mental health issues are no longer thought to cause fibromyalgia.

Implications for Future Research

Currently, most medical researchers agree that the causes of  fibromyalgia occurs due to a combination of these factors. Research continues to investigate and study more about this puzzling condition that has affected the lives and productivity of so many individuals in North America and around the world.

Find out more about this condition in the article Everything you Need to Know About Fibromyalgia>> or at our Fibromyalgia page.

More Fibromyalgia Content and Information

Fibromyalgia: This is Everything You Need to Know

Fibromyalgia Causes: Where Did This Pain Come From?

Fibromyalgia Causes: Evidence That It’s Not Just In Your Head

Fibromyalgia Symptoms: How Do I Know If I Have Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia Diet: What to Eat & What to Avoid as a Fibromyalgia Sufferer

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Fibromyalgia Fact Sheet." CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. Fibromyalgia: Causes. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/causes/con-20019243
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