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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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Felicia Fibro - Life with fibromyalgia, EMPOWERED!

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The Future of Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain

Last month TIME published a four part feature entitled Chronic Pain. I found the most interesting part to be Part one, Healing the Hurt. Finding new ways to treat pain. by Alice Park. She points out that 76 million people living in th U.S. are living with chronic pain. See, we aren’t alone! Hehe.

Park discusses quite a bit of fibromyalgia specific research, which I love! Research has shown that people with fibromyalgia typically have lower levels of endorphins than those not living in chronic pain. This prevents us from experiencing as much satisfaction, euphoria and natural pain relief that our body can deliver. Research has also shown that our nervous system may be altered. Park uses the example of stepping on your toe to lessen the pain you are feeling in another part of your body. In most people, the new toe pain would grab the brain’s focus and take some of it off your other hurting body part. In someone with fibromyalgia this process is impaired. We might actually end up feeling more pain, all at once!

The article covers many innovative therapies being studied to treat chronic pain. Through gene therapy research there is hope that the DNA causes for why some people feel more or less pain can be understood and treated. Another therapy involves using functional magnetic resonance images (fMRIs) to help patients retrain and control their brain’s response to pain. The main idea behind this is similar to biofeedback. Patients who don’t respond to any other therapies may one day have the choice to have a therapy that uses concentrated “magnetic fields to target deep-seated pain centers.” This process can help change the nerve pathways in the brain and thus relieve some of the pain. I look forward to seeing what further research says about these therapies.

I was fascinated by the idea Park ended the article with. She discusses how one piece of the chronic pain puzzle may be understanding the changes in the brain. She quotes Dr. David Borsook (Harvard), “Chronic pain really is a disease of the central nervous system, as such, it is a disease that affects the sensory, emotional, motivational, cognitive and modulatory pathways.” He suggests that as these pathways are understood more, new treatments for patients with pain will arise. He thinks that psychiatrists may hold the key to this understanding due to their experience with brain changes caused by other things, like mental illness. I honestly had never thought about psychiatrists being able to help discover better pain treatments. The more specialists that can help piece things together, the brighter the future is, in my opinion!

Which treatment being studied are you most interested in?

TIME magazine

Understanding Pain in TIME Magazine


Comment from Hayley Cafarella
Time April 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I suffer from Central Neural Sensitisation, which developed after a couple of years with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. With CRPS, the brain doesn’t register an injury as healed & continues to send pain. Over time, all of those pain signals overload the brain and it actually appropriates more brain “real estate” so to speak, to perceive all the incoming signals. This is why a person who suffers from chronic pain not only feels pain more severely, but can experience chronic & acute pain simultaneously, as you described with the toe example. Whether called CNS or Fibro (I’ve received both diagnoses at different times), it is most certainly a malfunction of the central nervous system.

I have been working with a Feldenkrais practitioner for about a year and this has made more difference than any other therapy that I’ve tried. Feldenkrais is a gentle movement therapy that helps to retrain the brain into healthy, pain-free movement patterns. It strengthens proprioception and allows the person to recognise areas of tension or movement habits that are likely to be exacerbating the pain problems. It’s a slow process, but I have progressed from needing a wheelchair or crutches to move to being almost always without these.

I am glad to have found your blog! Looking forward to future posts :)
Hayley Cafarella recently posted: Some Days Are Long


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Hayley, thanks for sharing how well Feldenkrais has worked for you. Your progress sounds amazing! The way you explained CRPS is one of the most clear descriptions I’ve ever read – sounds like you’ve had some experiencing sharing it!


Comment from Nicole
Time April 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm

It’s awesome that TIME is doing a story on this! The stigma of pain and our treatments for it are in the media which doesn’t always portray us in the best light. Great article!


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Nicole, I thought Alice Park did an amazing job and I just had to share it with you all!


Comment from phylor
Time April 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for reminding me of the TIME articles! I found the article you discuss very interesting too. And, the comments have been good as well.
My chronic pain is atypical: chronic facial pain and odontalgia. Lyrica has been helpful with the facial pain levels, but doesn’t address the dental pain. Spasms in my neck make these pains worse, partly because the trigger point for the facial pain is where two nerves “cross” each other in my neck.
My other health issues are now tied together with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (this fall).
Glad I found your blog. I plan on exploring your entries.
phylor recently posted: happy earth day- everyone


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks, Phylor! Sounds like you need a full-time massage therapist to make sure your neck doesn’t get too tense! =)


Comment from HealingWell
Time April 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Very interesting article! Thank you for sharing your take on it! ~ Peter
HealingWell recently posted: Maintaining Balance or- Somethings Gotta Give


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Glad you enjoyed it, Peter!


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