There’s always been a lot of debate about what causes fibromyalgia. At the moment, we still don’t know. Theories range from nerve damage to immune cells in the blood entering the brain. But we do know that fibromyalgia doesn’t seem to be an autoimmune condition. Many scientists have conducted studies to determine if the root of fibromyalgia might lie in the immune system. So far, most scientists have concluded that this isn’t the case.
But we also know that people with fibromyalgia do seem to suffer from autoimmune conditions much more frequently than people without fibromyalgia. And that begs the obvious question: why does fibromyalgia seem to be linked to these diseases? So, let’s talk about what causes autoimmune disease, try to answer the question of why it’s linked to fibromyalgia, and discuss some options to treat it.
What Causes Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune conditions are caused by the immune system attacking your body’s own tissue. In a healthy immune system, your blood cells produce antibodies that attack and destroy foreign bacteria and viruses. But when you have an autoimmune condition, these antibodies begin to attack your own body instead.
We aren’t sure what leads someone to develop one of these diseases, but scientists believe that a person’s genes probably play a significant role. And we also know that there are some conditions that make you more likely to develop autoimmune disorders, including fibromyalgia.
Why Is It Linked To Fibromyalgia?
People with fibromyalgia are more likely to suffer from conditions like lupus or psoriasis. And for a long time, doctors considered fibromyalgia to be a form of autoimmune disease. It’s easy to imagine why they would think this. After all, fibromyalgia leads to many symptoms that are very similar to those of other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis which causes pain in the joints and chronic fatigue.
But there are a lot of things that contradict this theory. First, fibromyalgia patients don’t seem to have an elevated level of antibodies in the blood, which is the first test doctors looking for a condition involving the immune system will run. In addition, diseases like lupus lead to inflammation in the tissue, which is not the case for fibromyalgia.
So if fibromyalgia isn’t this type of disease, why do people with fibromyalgia seem to develop them more frequently?
Interestingly, the answer may lie in the psychological issues that people with fibromyalgia face. We know that fibromyalgia causes a lot of stress and depression in people who suffer from it. And we also know that people who suffer from that kind of mental distress are also more susceptible to autoimmune conditions.
This would explain why there appears to be a link between these conditions despite the fact that fibromyalgia doesn’t seem to affect the immune system by itself.
Of course, it’s hard to manage depression when you’re struggling with chronic pain, which is why finding ways to keep a sense of mental wellness is important. But if you’re already struggling with a condition like lupus or RA, there are a few things you can do to treat them.
What Can You Do To Treat It?
The first step in treating any of these conditions is to treat the inflammation that they cause. This inflammation can be life threatening and directly causes chronic pain. And there are a few different types of medications that doctors use.
The first type is basic over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen. These are called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. NSAIDs work by blocking your body’s production of the enzymes that cause inflammation. And as a bonus, they also help reduce the amount of pain you experience.
The second type is something called a corticosteroid. Corticosteroids are a natural hormone that your body produces in response to inflammation. But your doctor can also prescribe synthetic corticosteroids to help your body manage inflammation more effectively.
Finally, your doctor may also prescribe immunosuppressant drugs. These drugs weaken the body’s ability to produce the cells that attack your tissue. Often, these drugs can help reduce inflammation caused by antibodies, but they carry the additional risk of making your more vulnerable to infections since they weaken the immune system.
So, let us know: do you suffer from an autoimmune condition? Do you think it’s linked to fibromyalgia? What do you do to treat it? Tell us in the comments.