Fibromyalgia affects four million adults in the U.S. but remains a mystery to researchers. Researchers have conducted many studies, but they still aren’t sure what causes fibromyalgia. The possibility of fibromyalgia being an autoimmune disease has been a topic of research in recent years, and some studies suggest there might be a link between the two.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a health disorder characterized by widespread pain throughout the body. It is thought to magnify painful sensations by affecting how the brain and spinal cord process pain signals. Fibromyalgia also affects your muscles and tissues, leading to intense chronic pain.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The main symptom of fibromyalgia is chronic, widespread pain. Widespread pain occurs on both sides of the body and both below and above the waist. This pain is usually described as a dull ache that persists for at least three months. Besides chronic pain, other fibromyalgia symptoms include:
- Sleep problems
- Body stiffness
- Frequent headaches or migraines
- Anxiety and depression
- Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory issues
- Sensitivity to pain
What Are the Risks of Fibromyalgia?
Several factors increase the risk of fibromyalgia. These risk factors include:
- Gender: Women are more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia than men.
- Age: Most people with fibromyalgia are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.
- Family history: You’re more likely to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia if you have a close family member with the condition.
Sleep disorders: People with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, are more likely to have fibromyalgia.
What Is an Autoimmune Disease?
There are more than 80 autoimmune diseases, and nearly 24 million adults in the United States currently live with one of them. Your immune system attacks germs like bacteria and viruses to protect you from disease. Because the germs aren’t part of you, your immune system knows to destroy them. If you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks the body because it incorrectly identifies healthy cells as dangerous germs. Healthy cells are destroyed, wreaking havoc on the body.
Is Fibromyalgia an Immune System Disorder?
Research about the correlation between fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases is still ongoing. Researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes fibromyalgia, but studies may indicate the immune system may be responsible.
One study in 2007 showed that high levels of thyroid antibodies were present in participants with fibromyalgia. However, in some cases, thyroid antibodies can be present without causing symptoms.
An animal study published in 2021 showed that mice who had antibodies from people with fibromyalgia injected into them became more sensitive to painful stimuli. They also moved around less and appeared weaker. While more research is needed, this study could prove that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease.
While there isn’t enough evidence to say whether fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder, there is evidence of a connection between the two. Though fibromyalgia may not be classified as an autoimmune disorder yet, the flare-ups seem to have similar causes. Certain foods are often to blame for triggering episodes of pain and discomfort.
Knowing what foods negatively affect you makes it easier to create a treatment plan to combat your symptoms. Our Bloodprint test can help you identify foods that may be triggering your flare-ups. Visit our website to learn more about how a food toxicity test could benefit your treatment plan.