Fibromyalgia's Progression Throughout the Years

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • On those days when we’re having a bad flare or wondering if we’ll ever find a pain medication that helps, it’s easy to get discouraged.  It’s frustrating to have an illness that is often described as “mysterious,” for which there are no FDA-approved medications, and about which some doctors still question its very existence.  When all we can see is how far we have to go, it helps to gain some perspective by looking at just how far we’ve come. 

    Ten years ago, when I told people I had fibromyalgia, their response was usually, “What’s that?  I’ve never heard of it.”  Now they not only say they’ve heard of it, they usually tell me about someone they know who has it. 
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    Although it may not seem like it if you’re still trying to find a good doctor, we’ve also made progress with medical professionals.  Today most doctors at least know what FM is.  Unfortunately a few still don’t believe in it in spite of all the research proving that it is a real physiological (not psychological) problem.  But that number is shrinking every year.  A big problem that still remains today is that many doctors who know what FM is, do not want to deal with it because it is so difficult to treat.

    Ten years ago, it was very difficult to find information about fibromyalgia and support for FM patients.  Today:
    • A Google search on “fibromyalgia” listed 7,040,000 sites.
    • Another Google search for “fibromyalgia support” resulted in 1,260,000 sites.
    • An search yielded 4,156 books on fibromyalgia.
    The most important progress over the past 10 years has been in the field of FM research.
    • Researchers have found that FM is not a muscular or an autoimmune disorder as they originally thought, but rather it is a central nervous system disorder that results in central sensitivity and pain amplification.
    • A number of neurotransmitter, hormonal and chemical imbalances have been found in FM patients that contribute to their pain amplification.
    • New brain-imaging techniques have revealed decreased blood flow to specific areas of the brain that deal with cognitive functioning and sensitivity to pain.
    • Studies in genetic research are showing evidence that some people may have a predisposition to FM.  
    Current research is providing exciting new insights into fibromyalgia.  The more scientists learn about the causes and effects of fibromyalgia, the closer we come to more effective treatments and (dare we hope?) even a cure. 

    Yes, we still have a ways to go.  But in the past 10 years, as the old Virginia Slims commercial used to say, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”
Published On: March 26, 2007