Here we ago again.  Another seemingly reasonable theory from 2007, nine years ago, that has not resulted in a treatment option for fibromyalgia.  Again, I’ll have to keep looking, but as much as dopamine is talked about in conjunction with fibromyalgia, you would have thought I would have seen “Dopamine – the Treatment”at some point.

Wood et al (see library) did a study looking at dopamine activity in the brain.  Their theory: Fibromyalgia is brought on by stress or trauma, which in turn causes suppression of the limbic system (the part of the brain that controls emotions and instincts).  Dopamine is a natural pain suppressant that is controlled (at least in part) by the limbic system.  Therefore, suppressed limbic system, suppressed dopamine, suppressed pain suppressant or even enhanced pain reception.  Dopamine also plays a role in cognitive function and could be involved in the hyperactive way people with fibromyalgia perceive pain.

Interestingly, this research is also relevant to Parkinson’s disease and adult attention deficit disorder.  Squirrel!

The thyroid hypothesis is fairly similar and both theories include the possibility that chronic lower back pain and other chronic pain syndromes may be affected by either low levels of these hormones or the body’s inability to utilize them.  There’s a strong sense of deja vu here, and I wonder what sort of connection between thyroid and dopamine there is.  Do they work in tandem?  Does one imbalance exacerbate the other?

Also, Wood et al is pretty solid about stress as being the cause.  However, I remember reading (somewhere – have to find it again) that stress and trauma did NOT factor as heavily in another study as previously anticipated.  The psychological factor with fibromyalgia is important, but I still wonder about a chicken and egg factor here.  Also, more than 4% of the world’s population has been intensely stressed at some point in their life.  Why does only about 4% of the world’s population have fibromyalgia if stress/trauma is the cause of the dopamine suppression chain reaction that causes fibromyalgia?  Is the difference genetic?  Still thinking…..

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