Causes of Fibromyalgia – Theories
Fibromyalgia is largely a mystery to doctors. Scientists have conducted a significant number of research studies investigating the condition and many theories have been proposed. To date, researchers have been unable to definitively define the root causes of fibromyalgia.
To gain more understanding of the possible causes of fibromyalgia, this article will delve into three areas of interest: the accepted cycle of Fibromyalgia symptoms, the primary risk factors that researchers are focusing on in their studies and several of the most common theories.
Cumulative Cycle Of Fibromyalgia Effects
Many doctors agree on a basic cycle of fibromyalgia symptoms. The body becomes more sensitive to pain and increased pain is experienced. Patients experience chronic and increasingly severe aches throughout the body. These aches, in turn, cause or contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression. The body then reacts by altering the amounts of certain hormones and chemicals it produces. This completes the cycle, as these hormones cause the body to become even more sensitive to pain.
This, too, is only a theory. Due to the lack of conclusive scientific understanding of this disease, there are no universally accepted treatments. Fibromyalgia is one of the most researched medical conditions today. Only after better understanding the root causes of fibromyalgia can more effective treatments be developed.
Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia
A risk factor is defined by the World English Dictionary as, “a factor, such as a habit or an environmental condition, that predisposes an individual to develop a particular disease.”
Here, will examine the primary factors which scientists believe may help predict if a person is at risk to develop fibromyalgia. These risk factors help researchers better focus on probable causes of fibromyalgia.
Gender and Serotonin
Fibromyalgia sufferers are overwhelmingly female. Over 90% of fibromyalgia patients are women. One possible explanation for this is that females have serotonin levels seven times less than that of males. Serotonin is a hormone that works in the brain in many ways, including the blocking or regulation of pain signals.
Poor Physical Conditioning
A person whose body is in poor physical shape is more likely to experience sharper aches and pains. This possibly contributes to the cumulative cycle of fibromyalgia. It is unclear whether poor physical conditioning may contribute to the onset of Fibromyalgia but demographic data related to Fibromyalgia has documented a link with obesity and weight gain.
Women with less estrogen are more prone to develop fibromyalgia. This adds to the theory that hormones play a significant role. As a woman enters Menopause and estrogen levels decline in her body this may make her more susceptible to Fibromyalgia.
Physical Or Emotional Trauma
Many, but far from all fibromyalgia patients, have experienced significant trauma in their lives. Most often, this trauma is related to brain or spinal cord injuries, surgery, or severe illness. However, a large amount of these patients have experienced harsh emotional trauma possibly dating back to childhood years.
Certain families have a much higher incidence of fibromyalgia. Researchers have attempted to isolate genes that are responsible for fibromyalgia. They have particularly focused on genes related to hormones.
Genes may dictate how the body regulates pain. One theory is that certain genes may cause some people to feel pain that others don’t feel.
Perhaps the most promising genes that are currently being examined are found in glial cells. The neurotransmission process includes these cells, which provide support for brain cells. They are not yet well understood.
Hormonal and Serotonin Imbalances
Sleep disturbances cause an imbalance of certain hormones. One of these is the human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is produced in the deepest phase of sleep. Deep sleep deprivation reduces its production. Imbalances of HGH in various other hormones can result in mood changes, fatigue, and memory and concentration problems.
Sleeping problems can also lead to a decrease in serotonin level. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that reduces sensitivity to pain. As the number of these neurotransmitters is reduced, the pain from fibromyalgia increases. Researchers believe that one reason women are more susceptible to fibromyalgia is because of their lower inherent serotonin levels.
Sleeping disorders also lead to elevated stress and anxiety, as well as depression. These symptoms are often present in fibromyalgia patients. Most scientists believe that stress, anxiety, and depression are symptoms and not causes of fibromyalgia.
The hormonal effects, as well as the effects from lack of restful sleep, contribute greatly to the cumulative fibromyalgia cycle.
Nervous System Disorders
Researchers are also looking for clues by studying the central nervous system. Abnormalities of the nervous system affect regions of the brain responsible for pain sensitivity.
Some scientists believe that oversensitive spinal cord nerves can alter brain chemistry. In theory, this results in the brain causing the body to sense even more pain. This becomes an endless cycle.
Studies have shown a high correlation of this phenomena occurring as a symptom, but have not demonstrated that this is an actual cause of fibromyalgia.