Fibromyalgia: Symptoms May Not Be Caused by Brain Abnormalities After All


Okay, I say new theory, but it’s actually been over a year already. However, I tend to research a lot of things, and I must admit that fibromyalgia rarely has any breakthroughs in it, so it’s not at the top of my priority list.


The fibromyalgia that we all know and have come to hate with a passion, has had a major breakthrough at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, in collaboration with the University of Liverpool and the Karolinska Institute.

The many symptoms in fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) would be caused by antibodies that increase the activity of pain-sensing nerves throughout the body.

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Fibromyalgia: a major pita.

“The results show that fibromyalgia is a disease of the immune system, rather than the currently held view that it originates in the brain. This finding strongly suggests that therapies which reduce antibody levels in patients are likely to be effective treatments.” As per ScienceDaily’s article.

Now, establishing that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder will entirely change the game! How we’ve perceived the condition in the past was a huge reason why doctors and scientists had no idea how to work with FMS. This could pave the way for much more effective treatments for the millions of people affected.

Such therapies are already available and are used to treat other disorders that are caused by autoantibodies.

Quick recap on fibromyalgia (FMS) and its symptoms

Fibromyalgia: widespread pain, fatigue(often referred to as fibro fog), decreased energy, sleep problems, cognitive difficulties, and mood changes. Many people also experience tender points on the body where touch produces pain.

FMS affects women more often than men(80% of all cases are women) and typically develops between the ages of 25 and 55, although it can be developed in young children.

What Causes Fibromyalgia

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, and since I’m a history NERD, I can tell you that theories about FMS have been ever-changing since it was first “named” in the early 1900s.

Originally, we thought it was inflammation related. It makes sense, especially when you take into consideration that FMS pain reacts to the weather changes just as much as things like arthritis and old injuries.

Later on, we thought it originated in the muscles themselves, around the time where the “18 tender points” were discovered.

When it was recognized in 1987, it was defined as being related to abnormalities in the way the brain processes pain signals. When that happened, it was practically categorized as a mental disorder, although it was never passed from medical doctors to psychotherapists.

Ever since then, a lot of research has been conducted but nothing really stuck to this elusive disorder.

silhouette of a woman lost in thought, struggling with anxiety management. a low battery sign to indicate exhaustion.
Fibromyalgia is just not fun.

New Research on Fibromyalgia

Well, sometime in 2021, researchers took a new look at FMS, and theorized that it may have something to do with…


Tests were conducted on mice (which makes me sad because mice don’t deserve this) and one group was given antibodies from people with fibromyalgia, while the other were not given any new antibodies.

I’ll spare you some details, but it would seem that these antibodies increase the activity of pain-sensing nerves throughout the body.

Does that mean what i think it means?

Yes. The results show that fibromyalgia is a disease of the immune system, rather than the currently held view that it originates in the brain.

How Will This Research Change the Way We View Fibromyalgia

This finding strongly suggests that therapies which reduce antibody levels in patients are likely to be effective treatments. And what more, we already have those! They are used to treat other disorders that are caused by autoantibodies.

Establishing that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder will transform how we view the condition and should pave the way for more effective treatments for the millions of people affected.

This work has uncovered a whole new area of therapeutic options and should give real hope to fibromyalgia patients.

What Does This Mean for People Who Suffer from Fibromyalgia

The new research seems to show that the increased pain sensitivity, muscle weakness, reduced movement, and reduced number of small nerve-fibres in the skin that are typical of FMS, are all a consequence of patient antibodies.

In other words, Fibromyalgia could soon be properly seen as the disorder that it is, instead of the stigmatized view that a lot of people and even doctors currently have.

Could it mean a somewhat easier process to apply for disability and other services for FMS?

The current estimate is that at least 1 in 40 people are affected by fibromyalgia worldwide, and this number is only growing. fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating, and current treatments often don’t work. But this new research offers hope to the millions of people who suffer from this condition. Because fibromyalgia is now known to be an autoimmune disorder, therapies that reduce antibody levels in patients are likely to be effective treatments.

One thing is for sure, it does seem like there are new treatments on the horizon.

The main takeaway from this: Fibromyalgia’s mystery is starting to unravel

With this new research that sheds light on our “mysterious illness” that is fibromyalgia, we can now look at it from a completely different angle, and one which I didn’t think we ever could: a physical one.

Brain abnormalities was the latest scoop in FMS knowledge. As someone who went through the way the medical system handles fibromyalgia, I can tell you, neither the doctors, the psychiatrists, of the rheumatologists responsible for looking into autoimmune disorders wanted to look at it.

But now that antibodies may be responsible for pain sensitivity… It becomes a little bit clearer whose job it is to work with us.

Sorry not sorry, rheumatologists of this world!

It is certainly a new and interesting theory to look into, and I’ll be keeping an eye on it. Who knows, maybe fibromyalgia will surprise us once again soon, or scientists will come up with some interesting takes on how to treat it!

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  1. Thank you.
    Very interesting.
    It should help many people.
    Thank you Michele

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