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Is Fibromyalgia an Autoimmune Disease?


Updated May 01, 2014

Question: Is Fibromyalgia an Autoimmune Disease?
Some websites and books called fibromyalgia an autoimmune disease, but others say it's not. Is fibromyalgia autoimmune?

No -- or at least, it's not classified as one at this time.

Because fibromyalgia was once believed to be an arthritis-related condition, and most arthritis is autoimmune, the assumption was that fibromyalgia fit into this category. However, thus far researchers have not uncovered any evidence of autoimmunity in fibromyalgia.

In autoimmune disorders, the immune system attacks a particular tissue or structure in the body. It typically causes damage and inflammation at that site, and these are traits not observed in fibromyalgia. However, right now we don't have enough solid evience as to the central mechanism of the illness to rule out many possibilities.

In fibromyalgia, irregularities in hormones, neurotransmitters (messengers in the brain) and enzymes (substances necessary for chemical reactions) are widely believed to be responsible for symptoms. Some researchers, however, suspect the immune system may be somewhat irregular in people with fibromyalgia.

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