Is fibromyalgia an autoimmune condition?

Short and sweet answer: No

That we know of with current research.

Is fibromyalgia autoimmune? PIN

Let’s look into the question a little more

What is an autoimmune disease?

The immune system becomes overactive and the body attacks its own body tissues.

In response to an unknown trigger, the immune system may begin producing antibodies that instead of fighting infections, attack the body’s own tissues. Treatment for autoimmune diseases generally focuses on reducing immune system activity. WEBmd 

Examples

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • MS
  • Graves’ disease

And many more

Fibromyalgia a brain on fire a body gone haywire image

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition where the pain processing system is faulty in the brain so that we feel pain faster, longer, and where there is no pain at all. It is characterized by widespread pain. That doesn’t mean, though, that we cannot have places where the pain is more severe, only that, yes, we tend to have baseline pain all over. What they know is the pain starts in the brain and pain processing. The syndrome varies from person to person and through one’s own lifetime. One person can be disabled by it while another can cope and function within limitations. One person can have severe pain while another severe fatigue.

There is some evidence it is caused by neuroinflammation. “Analysis of 92 inflammatory-related proteins in cerebrospinal fluid (CFS) and in plasma established evidence for both neuroinflammation and chronic systemic inflammation in FM” Study They believe also it is a central centralization condition. But there is no known cause stated at this time.

What they Know:

  1. Fibromyalgia impact the central nervous system, affecting how the brain processes pain. Causing widespread pain, fatigue, sleep dysfunction, cognitive dysfunction as some of its symptoms.
  2. It isn’t progressive (as far as we know by research at this time) See Will Fibromyalgia get worse
  3. New research into possible autoimmune factors are in progress so this may change in the future. (This research is an interesting read but not so far indicative of autoimmunity for certain, yet. And we cannot base a theory on a few studies, therefore we cannot make the conclusion fibromyalgia is an autoimmune condition based on just a little research, It would be premature to do so.)
  4. We know that research has yet to really get a grip on what fibromyalgia is and how it affects the entire body, so all this may change in the near future with further research.

 “Abnormalities in pain processing have been identified at various levels in the peripheral, central, and sympathetic nervous systems, as well as the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis stress-response system. Documented abnormalities include evidence of peripheral sensitization and wind-up phenomenon, central sensitization with changes in functional MRI and SPECT scans of the brain, increased levels of substance P in the cerebrospinal fluid, and impairment of descending noxious inhibitory control (DNIC) [111-118] Canadian Fibromyalgia Guidelines

Fibromyalgia is a SYNDROME to date

Fibromyalgia is not:

  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune (as far as currently informed)
  • A progressive disease (as far as currently informed)

Progressive disease

Some people feel like they get worse over time with fibromyalgia and that is often due to the fact they gain comorbid conditions or because due to doing less their muscles weaken… both of which will worsen symptoms and pain.

But fibromyalgia itself is not progressive. That is, it is not a disease that spreads and worsens over time. Fibromyalgia doesn’t damage our body over time. As far as research has determined. (keep in mind there has been a lot of research on inflammation and small fiber neuropathy… there have just been no conclusions yet as to whether we have long-term damage being done, on any level, yet stated officially. And therefore it is speculation at this point.)

But symptoms may worsen over time… hell, they fluctuate and ebb and flow as the decades go on it seems to me. And definitely, the less you do the less you can do due to lack of muscle conditioning… which certainly will make it feel like it is getting worse. Will fibromyalgia get worse?

The main difference is research on fibromyalgia is lagging behind many, many other conditions. We learn more every year about fibromyalgia. Back when I was diagnosed, half the doctors I saw didn’t believe it even existed. Now they know it exists but can’t quite put a finger on it… yet. So what category we are in is yet to be determined… so… we are a syndrome until research catches up to us.

Autoimmune diseases

More than 23 million Americans have some sort of autoimmune disorder that can affect nearly any part of the body.

Where your own immune system mistakes itself and attacks healthy cells. There are approximately 80 conditions in the autoimmune category. But fibromyalgia isn’t one of them.

There is the fact that confuses the issue: 1 in 4 people with fibromyalgia Also have an auto-immune disorder. But this doesn’t make fibromyalgia itself autoimmune.

They overlap in symptoms often which can lead to further confusion. (Joint pain, fatigue, weakness, muscle pain). But the test that indicates an autoimmune disorder does not show for fibromyalgia.

Other than the fact fibromyalgia doesn’t show on those tests autoimmune disorders can cause permanent damage to the body (even skin and joints). Fibromyalgia does not cause permanent damage to the body.

Fibromyalgia doesn’t fit into the category of autoimmune to date. It does mimic the symptoms of many autoimmune conditions and can occur With them but it is not one itself.

That doesn’t mean fibromyalgia can’t be severe or disabling because it can be. Also with the complications of comorbid conditions, we certainly seem to be getting worse over time… that is just compounding conditions and symptoms and decreasing functionality. We know it compounds with comorbid conditions. We know symptoms can get worse with time. No one has to tell us these things.

I see fibromyalgia as brian and nervous system dysfunction… a system gone wrong. Were pain signals are sent where there should be none and amplified when they should not be. And because it affects the central nervous system we get a variety of symptoms… a LOT of potential symptoms. It can be quite hard to diagnose because it mimics so many other conditions and those must be eliminated. To me, it is a body gone haywire. A brain on fire. But not autoimmune… that we can say yet. Not based on the research yet. Not based on what has been officially said yet. We cannot confirm that yet. Therefore, we are not in that category. And if we were, we would know more about fibromyalgia than we do now that is for sure. And we certainly do not. What we have is a collection of interesting research that hasn’t been combined into a cohesive theory on what causes fibromyalgia.

Sources and to-read studies:

Mayo Clinic Guide to Fibromyalgia

Neuroimmunology: What Role for Autoimmunity, Neuroinflammation, and Small Fiber Neuropathy in Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Adverse Events after Human Papillomavirus Vaccination?

Machine Learning to Understand the Immune-Inflammatory Pathways in Fibromyalgia

Evidence of both systemic inflammation and neuroinflammation in fibromyalgia patients, as assessed by a multiplex protein panel applied to the cerebrospinal fluid and to plasma

See more:

Fibromyalgia: The basics

Fibromyalgia introduction posts

Can fibromyalgia go away

Small fiber neuropathy and fibromyalgia

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4 thoughts on “Is fibromyalgia autoimmune?

  1. Thank you! Well written piece. I often have debates with people on this and my arguement is if there is no evidence of healthy tissue being damaged over time, it’s not progressive and you can’t see it on an MRI or xray after many years of activity like you would arthritis, then it’s not autoimmune. To be honest, the small minority I’ve had this disagreement with have been people who have self diagnosed themselves with fibro. Unfortunately, that minority gives genuine sufferers a bad rap. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know there is some research that indicates we might have some sort of autoimmune condition… but it isn’t conclusive at all so we cannot say anything by that. And saying anything based on a minority of research is a mistake for sure. Fact is, FM research is lagging… we do not know enough about anything yet

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I agree with both above. When I went to an alternative doctor, she was all about the autoimmune. I went once and decided to stick with what I learned about neuroplasticity when focusing on healing. HOwever, today I received this email from EpicGenetics. I took the FM/a test. It came back 85% finding for whatever they were looking for so they “confirmed” my diagnosis of FM. I found the email confusing.

    We at EpicGenetics are dedicated to supporting everyone with fibromyalgia. We have received many inquiries as to whether those with FM/a® Test proven fibromyalgia are more susceptible to contracting a Corona virus infection because they suffer with an immune system deficiency which is due to abnormal functioning regarding their immune system peripheral blood white blood cells. Consequently, we want to stress that if you have a positive FM/a® Test score, please take extra caution. Please maintain social distancing. Please limit leaving your homes. And if you do indeed receive a positive Corona virus infection, please tell us immediately as we need that information so that local public health authorities can be made aware and so we can see if additional treatment therapies must be provided to you.

    Thank you,

    Jeff Bellar
    Director of Operations
    EpicGenetics, Inc.
    11801 W. Olympic Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90064
    Tel: (310) 268-1001
    Fax: (310) 861-9004
    E-mail: jeff@epicgtx.com
    http://www.fmtest.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I believe they look at inflammation markers. So hard to say. I do know there is research for autoimmune suggestions… it is just not in the common literature because it isn’t demonstrated yet… not researched enough yet. And that is the main issue… just not enough research at all yet to show what is the cause of FM… yet

      Liked by 1 person

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