If you’ve found your way onto this site, it’s likely that either you or someone you know has fibro. Regardless, its nice to know what you’re dealing with. For those of you who don’t know much about it, or those who want to learn more, you’ve come to the right place.
In today’s post, I am going to outline the various different theories relating to the causes of fibromyalgia, however, it is important to remember that doctors are unclear of the exact cause (hence why these are known as theories).
First of all, let’s recap. Fibromyalgia has a 3 key aspects that stand out from other lesser symptoms:
- Chronic pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Cognitive dysfunction
* You can read more about these in the glossary that I am working on at the moment. This will be available by the end of October with the idea that I can add to it as I go.
The diathesis-stress model
The condition is thought to arise based on a 2 part system, often known as the diathesis-stress model. This theory suggests that there is a genetic predisposition towards the illness; that manifests itself as fibromyalgia once triggered by a stressor.
Stressors can be anything, but can usually be classed as one of two main focuses:
- Psychological traumas- anxiety, depression, stress, abuse, etc.
- Physical traumas- a virus, an accident, overworking your body, etc.
In simple terms, if you have a high chance of getting fibro because of your genetics, a bad experience may trigger it.
The nervous system
Your nervous system is responsible for sending messages from one part of your body to another, and is made up of a network of tiny neurons which span across every inch. Your nervous system is what delivers the messages sent to and from your brain, and it is often thought that fibro is caused by a mix-up in this process. Messages are sent throughout your body, but some area of the system malfunctions, meaning that the message is incorrectly delivered and/or received.
Within fibromyalgia, it is thought that a lack of certain neurotransmitters known as Serotonin and Norepinephrine are to blame.
Serotonin is known to help with the processing of pain, as well as being a well known aspect of the sleep cycle, allowing the human body to feel awake. Furthermore, it is used in the process of creating melatonin, the neurotransmitter involved in making you feel sleepy. Norepinephrine is involved with cognitive processes such as stress response, memory, and alertness, and is used to create the motivational neurotransmitter, dopamine.
In many cases, the effects of this can be lessened by taking an antidepressant known as an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) or SNRI (serotonin- norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor), as these drugs focus on changing the way these neurotransmitters work in the brain- the uptake of these certain chemicals is reduced. Often, drugs like this are prescribed when they give a dual effect of lessening depression, a cognitive issue linked to fibromyalgia, as well as reducing pain.
There are many ideas that have been tossed around in the process of trying to figure out why fibromyalgia came to be. Here are a few more ideas that you might like to research for yourself:
- Fibromyalgia sufferers have gone through a change in the way the brain handles pain and stress due to previous relationships with them (such as abuse).
- Fibromyalgia is a symptom of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
- Due to the fact that females are more likely to experience fibromyalgia, it has been considered that the illness is caused by some differing factor between males and females. These are usually thought to be related to biological or societal differences between the two sexes.
- Fibro is a comorbidity of another illness.
Do you have any theories that you think may explain why fibromyalgia comes about? Let us know in the comments below, or get in touch via the contacts page. Don’t forget to like and share if you enjoyed this post.
Thanks guys 🙂