Fibromyalgia patients are fully aware of how agonizing fibro pain is. Understanding how neuropathic pain works can somehow help us to learn more about the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia.
What Is Neuropathic Pain?
Pain is categorized in three groups – idiopathic, nociceptive and neuropathic. Of all three, it is neuropathic pain that is a bit different. Instead of being a cause of physical pain, neuropathic comes from the nerves. It usually occurs when the nervous system is damaged. There are various conditions that can lead to neuropathic pain. They include alcoholism and multiple sclerosis. Any condition that can trigger nerve damage is considered a neuropathic pain.
Is Fibromyalgia a Form of Neuropathic Pain?
Doctors found evidence that almost half of fibromyalgia patients suffer from some extent of nerve damage. However, this also mean that almost half of the patients are suffering from conditions unrelated to nerve damage.
The reason behind why fibro patients experience pain in the nerves in still unclear. Some have suggested that the nervous system can eventually become hypersensitized due to pain. As a result, it sends pain signals to the brain even without an actual damage to the nerves. This can be the case with fibromyalgia. Some patients tend to develop fibromyalgia after experiencing a physical or mental trauma. There are evidences that show both cases may lead to over-sensitivity of the nervous system.
Another possibility is the body’s immune cells, microglia, affecting the nervous system. The immune cells play important roles in neuropathic pain. These cells pass into the barrier between the brain and the blood to treat the damaged nerve endings. However, the cells can sometimes become hypersensitive. When this happens, they start picking up the signals of the damaged nerves and end up releasing cytokines. Cytokines trigger inflammation on the nerves and sends more pain signals. As you can see, the process can lead to an endless cycle of pain. This can cause even more damages in the nerves and hypersensitivity.
The most compelling evidence in this theory is that fibromyalgia patients tend to have an elevated level of leptin in their blood. In fact, researchers have said that one way to determine the severity of the pain is by measuring the level of leptin. Leptin also passes into the barrier between the brain and blood. This triggers the release of microglia and the cycle of pain continues. Researchers are hopeful that by understanding how fibromyalgia patients release more leptin, they can find a cure for fibromyalgia.