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High-Tech Tools Reveal Fibromyalgia Brain Activity

High-Tech Tools Reveal Fibromyalgia Brain Activity

    Fibromyalgia, Medical Research 

Fibromyalgia exhibits no physical evidence in either the muscular or skeletal systems, leading to its nickname – the invisible syndrome.  Diagnosis has baffled physicians and patients alike but new technology may change the way the disease is diagnosed and treated in the future, according to a report in the latest issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.  The researchers behind the story discovered the blood in the brains of fibromyalgia patients doesn’t flow the same way as people without the crippling disease.

High-Tech Tools Reveal Fibromyalgia Brain Activity

 

  Fibromyalgia, Medical Research 

Fibromyalgia exhibits no physical evidence in either the muscular or skeletal systems, leading to its nickname – the invisible syndrome.  Diagnosis has baffled physicians and patients alike but new technology may change the way the disease is diagnosed and treated in the future, according to a report in the latest issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.  The researchers behind the story discovered the blood in the brains of fibromyalgia patients doesn’t flow the same way as people without the crippling disease.

Fibromyalgia, a common cause of musculoskeletal pain that can lead to disability, is thought to affect between three and six million Americans, or about one of every 50 people.  Almost all fibromyalgia patients are female.  The disease is chronic, bringing fatigue, muscle pain, and tender spots throughout the body.  The slightest pressure on the tender spots characteristic of fibromyalgia brings pain.

Eric Guedj, MD, led the study which finally revealed physical evidence, making fibromyalgia a “real disease/disorder.”  Frequently thought to be a form of arthritis, fibromyalgia causes crippling pain in various joints but does not produce the inflammation and damage that arthritis causes.  Another common explanation is that the pain is a physical symptom of depression but antidepressants don’t affect the pain.

What Guedj’s team found was abnormal brain perfusion, or cerebral blood flow, visible only by using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), a molecular imaging technology.  In fibromyalgia patients, perfusion was more intense (hyperperfusion) in the part of the brain associated with pain’s intensity.  Hypoperfusion (decreased perfusion) in the emotional response centers of the brain was also in evidence, knowledge Guedj expects will call for alterations in the current methods of detection and care.

Guedj’s research involved 30 women, 20 of whom were fibromyalgia patients and 10 of whom, the controls, were not.  Each woman was surveyed to determine pain level, degree of disability, or the presence of depression or anxiety and she underwent a SPECT scan.  None of the women without fibromyalgia showed evidence of abnormal brain perfusion.  The perfusion abnormalities were not influenced by a patient’s depression or anxiety levels, according to Guedj.

Source: Society of Nuclear Medicine

 


 

 

 

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