Fibromyalgia patients have brain inflammation

PET scans show fibromyalgia patients have inflammation in the brain – Oct. 5, 2018 – By Serena Gordon, HealthDay News

“Finding an objective neurochemical change in the brains of people who are used to being told that their problems are imaginary is pretty important,” explained senior study author Marco Loggia.

I think this is wonderful news. The public usuallly believes that fibromyalgia isn’t a “real” condition, so our suffering from the chronic pain it causes is dismissed as “psychological”. We still can’t detect or measure the pain, but now there’s a way to objectively detect one syndrome/disease that’s causing it.

The new research used an advanced imaging test called positron emission tomography, or PET, and looked at 31 people with fibromyalgia and 27 healthy “controls” from Boston and Stockholm, Sweden. 

Dr. Harry Gewanter, a master of the American College of Rheumatology said, “There’s a heck of a lot of stigma associated with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia. I think it’s going to make a lot of people feel much better to know that there are physiologic changes you can find,” Gewanter said

Fibromyalgia causes pain throughout the body, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition also causes sleep problems, fatigue and difficulty with thinking and memory.

The disorder affects about 4 million Americans, the CDC reports.

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, though the researchers said it’s likely a disease of the central nervous system

When the researchers compared the scans of people with fibromyalgia to healthy controls, they saw more inflammation in the immune cells of the brain — glia — in people with fibromyalgia.

Loggia said the findings might lead to better ways to test fibromyalgia treatments, to see if they reduce inflammation. It’s also possible that this finding may eventually help researchers tease out the cause of the disorder

Gewanter said this study gives scientists a number of possible directions to go. One is to be able to follow a treatment to see how well it works. Another is possibly developing ways to intervene with new treatments.

Here’s another, more technical, article about this discovery

Fibromyalgia Patients Show Elevated Brain Glial Activation – by Milla Bengtsson October 1, 2018

Widespread inflammation in the brains of patients with the poorly understood condition called fibromyalgia has now been documented for the first time.

Characterized by symptoms including chronic widespread pain, sleep problems, fatigue, and problems with thinking and memory, fibromyalgia affects around 4 million adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previous research from the Karolinska group led by Eva Kosek, MD, PhD, co-senior author of the current study, suggested a potential role for neuroinflammation in the condition – including elevated levels of inflammatory proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid – but no previous study has directly visualized neuroinflammation in fibromyalgia patients.

Overexpressed Translocator Protein

A 2015 study by Loggia’s team used combined MR/PET scanning to document neuroinflammation – specifically activation of glial cells – in the brains of patients with chronic back pain.

Hypothesizing that similar glial activation might be found in fibromyalgia patients as well, his team used the same PET radiopharmaceutical, which binds to the translocator protein (TSPO) that is overexpressed by activated glial cells, in their study enrolling 20 fibromyalgia patients and 14 control volunteers.

Neuroinflammation And Microglia

The results from both centers found that glial activation in several regions of the brains of fibromyalgia patients was significantly greater than it was in control participants.

Compared to the MGH team’s chronic back pain study, TSPO elevations were more widespread throughout the brain, which Loggia indicates corresponds to the more complex symptom patterns of fibromyalgia.

This is the first time I’ve seen a study investigating the difference between other kinds of chronic pain and fibromyalgia. Finally, there’s proof that fibromyalgia is a very real and specific condition.

The activation of glial cells we observed in our studies releases inflammatory mediators that are thought to sensitize pain pathways and contribute to symptoms such as fatigue.

Here are some previous posts that also support this idea:


3 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia patients have brain inflammation

  1. peter jasz

    Lol. Wow:

    “Finding an objective neurochemical change in the brains of people who are used to being told that their problems are imaginary is pretty important,” explained senior study author Marco Loggia.

    Read that again. “imaginary problems” -would that be the wise-words by arrogant physicians who should have said (in all honesty) ..”. we’re too stupid to know what the problem is -meaning we can’t help you”.
    But no, their idiotic arrogance utters such words/sentiments as “It’s all in your head/imaginary” !!?

    You know, that’s a huge problem with medical science; these doctor-types are so wrapped up in their dubious role of “physician” to take note that their “knowledge” comes from research studies (manipulated of course) designed to enrich pharmaceuticals -and doctorate types that have financial interest and incentive to play along. Never stopping to think: “Hmm, too many things are not making sense here (i.e. what we’re being told -by their respective governing body- and that of patient complaints/observations). It’s not “adding” up. Are they interested in finding out why ? Damn no. They’re making money hand-over-fist (their ancestors could never dream of), enjoying the lifestyle riches that such professions pay out -to keep them from investigating or resolving discrepancies. Risking the great effort put forth to attain that Phd. is far too risky -and unnecessary- seeking clarity, facts, and perhaps uncovering corruption at the highest organizational level surely must be beyond their desires -or interest.
    So they throw-out their naive understanding of so many medical conditions by using quick-quip replies such as “Mechanical” back pain, “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome” and no doubt a host of others including “It’s in your head”. It’s utterly beyond insulting hearing it repeated to this day.

    Instead, how about some sincere, simple honesty and humility, say, something like this: “Ms./Mr.”X”, I wish “we” knew, but I’ll do what I can to help with the/this medical problem of yours”.
    But do they?
    As research unfolds (honestly reported that is) it will not only unravel intricate, telling discoveries resulting in actual, effective treatments, but also, consequentially expose the sheer ignorance the profession so proudly displayed and continues to display.

    A brilliant mind is one that is deeply humbled by what they don’t know/understand, not boasting of what they think they know or understand. Resting on the laurels of a doctorate degree (or recent lecture discoveries -more rhetoric than anything useful it appears) means absolutely nothing when/if their remains considerable patient suffering.

    Let’s end, hence where it began:

    “Finding an objective neurochemical change in the brains of people who are used to being told that their problems are imaginary is pretty important,”

    “Pretty important” says the wise one. No doubt it is. But, how many times have you physicians uttered (or thought) words to the effect of: “lose weight, “exercise” , “stop smoking (and drinking)” or, the most telling quip of all: “It’s all in your head/imaginary”, we can’t find anything”.

    Of course they don’t tell us they have no stinki’n clue what their looking for -let alone explain, or say to the patient; “we’re diligently looking for answers”.
    Waaay too honest, sensible and humble for the Great Doctor to acknowledge of course.

    In saying this, I am, we are, so fortunate to have such highly skilled men/women at the top of their game saving, helping and encouraging the lives of so many appreciative patients. Me included. Appreciation aside, we should all expect far more honest humility from the remainder in the profession. But then again, narcissistic personality traits are known to walk hand-in-hand in so many, capable, smart, dedicated, gifted-types. Problem is, their ‘negative’ characteristics can be quite alarming.

    peter jasz

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      I’m so glad you mention your appreciation for doctors, even as your criticisms are justified. I’ve been lucky and have found a truly “good” doctor 3 times so far and spent around about 10 years working with each. But I’ve met the arrogant kind too, which always surprises me because such well-educated smart people should know more than most how limited our knowledge is and how wrong today’s ideas might be.

      I think profiteering has ruined our healthcare system – doctors are being abused and managed as purely corporate servants. Most doctors are employees now, and their masters have made their jobs more about profit (or cost-cutting) than healing. Most of them are victims of an uncaring, increasingly standardized medical system. They are leaving the field in droves, too often by suicide. Pain patients aren’t the only ones getting shafted by the medical industry.


  2. peter jasz

    Hi Zyp: Thanks for your words; their passionate, honest and powerful.

    I was stunned -and taken aback when I read:

    ” …Most of them are victims of an uncaring, increasingly standardized medical system. They are leaving the field in droves, too often by suicide.”

    I can’t even imagine such life-long discipline, high education, the sacrifices of it all (physician’s) only to ‘leave’ the profession -and some in the manner you describe is unfathomable. I never thought for a moment such drastic action/reaction (by physicians) would unfold. That’s truly is heart-breaking. Unfathomable really.

    I replied to another post/article which claimed “billions being ‘poured’ into …alternative opiate treatments” and thought of the irony; drug-culture users are dying in droves, but the question should be, Why? Yes, the illegal street drugs of course -but why so many?

    Well, simply take a look at current ‘culture’; eroding/disappearing middle-class, jobless, homeless -future-less. Suspecting corporate and government abuses, then discovering, knowing and then digesting the ugliness/corruption. A real ugly reality unfolds. And people, not surprisingly, wish to escape.
    The irony is that it is precisely these same assholes pouring billions-of-dollars into a drug/alcohol epidemic (pandemic?) that’s caused by their own ruthless, soul-less, careless actions; that would be the corporate/ government Mafia itself -playing golf with their underworld buddies.
    They know what’s going on -and lick their lips as they feed the fire …

    Incredible. Disgraceful.


    Liked by 1 person


Other thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.