VIRGINIA, March 15, 2014 — There seems to be a great deal of “fibro-speak” on the internet, resulting from a proliferation of studies and research, as well as a great deal of opinion. Most of the accurate information deals with how to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).
Studies and research findings of possible causes tend to contradict each other. What one study claims is a cause of FMS, another implies is not. These wide variations in information create a world of confusion for victims of this horrific disorder.
New research from Duke University shows a connection between FMS and what is known as “intense creative energy,” or Type-A personality. Another solid study shows that FMS symptoms result from blocked AV shunts with peripheral nerve issues; a third study suggests a central nervous system disorder; a fourth, food additives; and yet a fifth, glandular issues and hormonal imbalance.
Perhaps FMS is akin to influenza or the flu. The symptoms for sufferers are similar, but science has revealed many different viruses as a cause of the flu. Until science uncovered viral causation of influenza, such symptoms were assigned to an assortment of different ills or religious conception.
Fortunately, science has shown that FMS is a physical syndrome, not, as thought for many years, psychogenic or “in the mind.”
FMS is a complex disorder. Like the flu, there is almost certainly an underlying, common causative factor that generates similar symptoms in most sufferers. It’s impact may extend to produce other syndromes of unknown origin but with similar symptoms or effects.
Perhaps a better comparison can be made with the rhinovirus or a common cold. There are over 200 different rhinoviruses that cause “the common cold.” Individuals respond differently to each rhinovirus, with some avoiding symptoms all together while others suffer from a wide range of ailments when exposed to the same rhinovirus.
Many researchers are now looking at a broader context for the cause of FMS, and whether elements people are exposed to regularly could trigger an FMS response in some.
The broader context is excitotoxins and neurotoxins found in the environment and processed foods. Interestingly, FMS did not truly surface as a global disorder until the world’s atmosphere became polluted from industry and chemicals and foods started being processed by the millions. FMS has historically been the domain of women in their child- bearing years but now, young males as early as age 10 are diagnosed with FMS.
Excitotoxicity is described as “neuronal injury caused by excessive release of excitatory neurotransmitters such as glutamate and aspartate causing damage to nerve and glial cells, which occurs in diverse neurologic diseases that may be acute” and “neuronal death resulting from increased intracellular glutamate.” An excitotoxin is a class of substances that damage neurons.
Neurotoxin is defined as “a natural or artificial toxic substance” and neurotoxicity as “the degree of exposure to a neurotoxin that alters the function of the nervous system”
Glutamate is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain and nervous system.
These are abridged definitions yet perhaps, herein lays fundamental connections that may explain cross-over multiple, similar symptom syndromes, particularly chronic pain syndrome (CPS) and FMS and the oft misdiagnosis of Lyme’s disease.
Paul Mountjoy, PhD, is a Virginia based psychotherapist