— Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have made a groundbreaking discovery that could ease symptoms for millions of people suffering from conditions such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.
Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander said a good proportion of patients diagnosed with those health issues may actually have a disease called small fiber polyneuropathy, or SFPN.
This is a disorder in which nerve cells found under the skin are attacked by the body’s immune system.
The resulting damage can cause numerous symptoms, including gastrointestinal discomfort and feeling like the skin is on fire.
“The problem is their skin looks perfectly normal, and there’s no evidence that anything’s wrong,” Oaklander said.
Along with others, Oaklander recently published a study in which they found that drugs called immunomodulators can be effectively used to treat SFPN, though these drugs may not work in every patient because every presentation of the disorder is different.
She said patients who learn they have SFPN often feel liberated.
“It’s pretty routine that I have patients who break down and cry when they get an answer for the first time to something that’s been disabling them for years or decades,” Oaklander said.
One of those patients is MaryEllen Talbot, who had initially been diagnosed with fibromyalgia before learning she actually has SFPN.
“This diagnosis is from a biopsy, so it’s not subjective, it’s objective. It’s something they see on the lab,” she said.
Talbot isn’t alone. Because of the varying symptoms from case to case, Oaklander said the number of people with SFPN could be huge.
5 Major Risk Factors Of Fibromyalgia
As you would probably know, fibromyalgia is a chronic syndrome; chronic meaning that the syndrome is long-lasting, normally a lifelong illness. Fibromyalgia does not do damage to joints or cause inflammation, although it is considered an arthritis related condition. In fact, Fibromyalgia is a rheumatic condition for it causes pain in soft tissue and joints.
To be clear, although there are many theories, a consensus about any one specific cause of Fibromyalgia does not exist. Researchers and physicians believe that a combination of factors working in concert play a role in the existence of Fibromyalgia
Contributing factors may include:
• Central nervous systems issues
• Repetitive injuries
• Rheumatoid arthritis and/or Lupus
• Traumatic physical or psychological episode (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
• Family history can make one more vulnerable to developing the syndrome.
Besides the above causes, other risk factors include gender—women are ten times more likely to develop the syndrome—and age—Fibromyalgia is more commonly diagnosed between 20 and 50 years old. Furthermore, sleep disorders have been seen as both a symptom and a possible cause of Fibromyalgia. Patients who suffer from sleep disorders as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea have increased risk of having Fibromyalgia.