Theories abound about the root cause of fibromyalgia. I would say the biggest stumbling block to being able to provide reliable relief or even (dare I say it?) a cure is the inability to identify what fibromyalgia is and what actually causes it, and so the focus with research has been really characterizing it instead. Characterizing or describing fibromyalgia seems to be useful more for finding ways to chase symptoms rather than deal with fibro as one cohesive underlying condition, which (I think) would lend itself toward a solution to the problem – chasing symptoms is not a solution.
So I was drawn to an article by Katz et al (see library) titled, “The pain of fibromyalgia syndrome is due to muscle hypoperfusion induced by regional vasomotor dysregulation.” The sheer audacity of saying outright, “here is the cause” of fibro pain! Who cares what they’re talking about – they’re saying they know the underlying cause for fibro pain, which then in my mind also reveals the underlying cause for the debilitating fatigue and brain fog, and who knows what else.
The remarkable thing about this article is that it acknowledges pretty much all the other theories about a root cause for fibro pain as well as many of the therapies that have been suggested or are being used and is able to pull all of these together into one cohesive theory. They don’t leave out or dispute other inconvenient theories so they don’t have deal with them. And they do it without simplifying the problem.
In a nutshell: people with fibromyalgia don’t have good blood flow throughout their bodies (muscle hypoperfusion). In order to relieve the pain of fibro, blood vessels need to open up and let the blood throughout better. That would not only circulate nutrients throughout the body – many of which are noted as at low levels in fibro patients – it also allows for proper removal of “waste products” from the body. In other words, we’re not getting enough of what we need and we’re not getting rid of what we need to get rid of, which is maybe why sometimes I feel almost toxic. All this is “induced by vasomotor dysregulation in discrete vascular beds” which means our blood vessels are not dilating or constricting properly. This would also account for why we have problems regulating our body temperature, but importantly it explains why, to the frustration of doctors and patients alike, all our blood tests have that pesky tendency to come back NORMAL and then we become just them crazy hypochondriacs.
Katz et al point out that “metabolic deficiencies are not consistently seen in serum sampling” – our blood work is normal – “…there is not a fundamental deficiency in these metabolites in FMS patients, rather their delivery is compromised [emphasis added].” We’re not at low levels, our “normal range” is not a different normal, we’re just not circulating!
So much of this makes sense. It explains why the extreme aerobic exercises I was doing when I started this quest worked so well – because it got my blood pumping. It didn’t necessarily cause more of the stuff I wasn’t getting to be produced – it was allowing my body to circulate and utilize what I had better. It explains why, when I digress from exercise I lose every inch of ground I gained by exercising quickly and indisputably.
The bad news: this article was published in 2007. It was accepted for publication in 2005. It’s 10 years old. There has been research building off this research – talking about the glabrous skin and shunts and all that, which leads to the Avacen 100 and the machine that makes the blood circulate and everything feel better.
The other bad news: if this research is correct, a “cure” as such is not in sight. But chasing symptoms could be at an end. Exercise exercise exercise. I really don’t enjoy exercising… Why can’t chasing symptoms be considered aerobic activity?