First, let's break down that term:
- Neuropathy is pain from damaged or dysfunctional nerves;
- Poly means in multiple places:
- Small fibers are structures in your skin, organs, and peripheral nerves that provide sensation to your skin and help regulate autonomic function (the automatic jobs your body does, like controlling temperature and breathing.)
In this study, researchers analyzed SFPN-associated symptoms, conducted neurological exams, and looked at pathological and physiological markers in a small group of people with fibromyalgia and a control group. They found:
- skin biopsies showed SFPN in 41% of the fibromyalgia group but only 3% in the control group;
- fibromyalgia participants scored higher on two neuropathy scales than did health controls;
- similar autonomic function between the groups.
Researchers concluded that some people diagnosed as fibromyalgia actually have unrecognized SFPN. That suggests that doctors should consider SFPN before diagnosing fibromyalgia, especially since SFPN is a well-defined disease with specific treatments that are often quite effective.
It's worth noting that some treatments approved for neuropathic pain, including Lyrica (pregabalin), are successful in many people diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
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