Researchers analyzed the blood of 25 women with the condition, along with healthy controls, and found 100% of the fibromyalgia group had markers of an inflammatory state and altered stress response. They say that was demonstrated by high circulating levels of interleukin 8, a major mediator of inflammatory response, and C-reactive protein, which rises in response to inflammation.
Other markers of inflammation and impaired stress response found in a significant number of participants with fibromyalgia include:
- High circulation levels of stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine
- eHsp72 (a stress-related protein)
- Inflammatory cytokines (immune-system regulators that lead to inflammation)
- Enhanced activation of neutrophils (which are involved in immune response)
Researchers concluded that there is evidence of inflammatory and stress dysregulated and believe the two are related. However, they state that it's unclear which dysregulation causes the other.
Note: Medically, the term "stress" is used to indicate not only psychological stress, but also physiological stress, such as illness and injury.
A Growing Case for Inflammation
Opinions have fluctuated as to whether fibromyalgia is an inflammatory disease. Generally, our test results come back normal or showing moderate amounts of inflammation (unless we have another condition causing higher levels.) Also, anti-inflammatory drugs don't tend to alleviate fibromyalgia pain.
However, in the last couple of years, new evidence has come to light that makes it appear that inflammation plays a greater role that previously thought. Now, some research shows that we may have inflammation in the fascia, which is a thin web of connective tissue all throughout the body.
If studies continue to show evidence of inflammation, doctors may eventually start doing different tests to look for the specific markers that are common in us, which could lead to a much improved diagnostic process.
Do you believe inflammation plays a role in your fibromyalgia? Have you found treatments to help? Leave your comments below!