Up until this point scientists had thought that these fibers were only responsible for regulating blood flow, and did not play any role in pain sensation, but now they’ve discovered that there is a direct link between these nerves and the widespread body pain that Fibromyalgia sufferers feel.
The breakthrough also could solve the lingering question of why many sufferers have extremely painful hands as well as other “tender points” throughout the body, and why cold weather seems to aggravate the symptoms. In addition to feeling widespread deep tissue pain, many Fibromyalgia patients also suffer from debilitating fatigue.
These are digital images of what the arteriole-venule shunts look like in a tiny biopsy of human palmar skin as seen under the microscope. All of the nerve fibers that surround the shunts are white. A shunt in a woman without fibromyalgia is shown to the left and a shunt from a woman with fibromyalgia is shown to the right. The woman with fibromyalgia has an excessive quantity of nerve fibers around her shunt. Credit: Frank L. Rice, PhD, Integrated Tissue Dynamics LLC
Fibromyalgia, a painful condition affecting approximately 10 million people in the U.S., is not imaginary after all, as some doctors have believed. A discovery, published this month in Pain Medicine/i> (the journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine), clearly now demonstrates that fibromyalgia may have a rational biological basis located in the skin.
Now, a breakthrough discovery by scientists at Integrated Tissue Dynamics LLC (Intidyn), as part of a fibromyalgia study based at Albany Medical College, has provided a biological rationale for this enigmatic disease. The small biotechnology research company, founded by neuroscientists Dr. Frank L. Rice and Dr. Phillip J. Albrecht, reports on a unique peripheral neurovascular pathology consistently present in the skin of female fibromyalgia patients which may be a driving source of the reported symptoms.