Fibromyalgia is a fairly common condition, with estimates pointing out that about one in twenty people suffers from it.1 And though anybody can develop this condition it attacks women disproportionately, with 80–90 percent of those affected being women.2 Those who develop this condition experience symptoms like muscle pain, disturbed sleep, and fatigue, but scientists have not yet been able to pinpoint an exact cause for fibromyalgia. Some factors, however, have been found to contribute to the development of this condition.
6 Possible Causes Of Fibromyalgia
1. Hormonal Imbalances
According to research, the brains of people who suffer from fibromyalgia have unusually low levels of the hormones noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. These hormones play a role in regulating aspects of mood, sleep, response to stress, appetite, and behavior. Significantly, they also play a part in processing messages of pain sent by your nerves.
Experts have also suggested that an imbalance in other hormones like cortisol (which helps you deal with stress) could be a factor in the development of fibromyalgia.3
2. Dysfunctional Sensory Processing
According to experts, a dysfunction in the way your central nervous system (spinal cord, brain, and nerves) processes messages of pain from the body could account for the development of fibromyalgia. This dysfunction could be the result of changes in your hormones and other chemicals. In fact, it has been observed that people with fibromyalgia may have a three-fold elevation in a neurotransmitter known as substance P, which transmits pain signals. So changes in the way their central nervous system works could explain the increased sensitivity to pain experienced by people with this condition.4
3. Disturbed Sleep
It’s known that fibromyalgia can disrupt proper sleep and leave you fatigued. According to experts, disturbed sleep could be a cause of fibromyalgia and not just a symptom. Those with fibromyalgia who have problems with sleep have also been found to experience increased levels of pain.5
Fibromyalgia has often been found to be triggered by physically or emotionally stressful events. This might include a physical injury, a medical operation, a viral infection, childbirth, an abusive relationship, the death of someone close to you, the end of a relationship etc.6
Your genetic makeup may play a role in the development of this condition. And the reason why some people get fibromyalgia after exposure to a stressful trigger while others don’t might have to do with their genes.7
6. Medical Conditions
You might have a higher chance of getting fibromyalgia if you have certain medical conditions like:
- Lupus, a condition where the immune system malfunctions and attacks healthy tissues and cells.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, a condition where the immune system attacks healthy cells in your joints by mistake causing inflammation and pain.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, a condition where you get swelling and pain in your spine.
Though there is no cure for fibromyalgia, practices like exercising, having a healthy diet, and getting proper sleep, as well as therapies like tai chi, yoga, and acupuncture, may be helpful in dealing with this condition.9
|↑1||Fibromyalgia. National Health Service.|
|↑2, ↑8||What Is Fibromyalgia? National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑3, ↑5, ↑6, ↑7||Fibromyalgia – Causes. National Health Service.|
|↑4||What is Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia Action UK.|
|↑9||6 Things To Know About Mind and Body Practices for Fibromyalgia. National Institutes of Health.|