For all of our medical advances over the past few decades, there are still many conditions that we just don’t know very much about. And of course, fibromyalgia is a great example. It wasn’t until recently that we even knew that fibromyalgia was a specific condition. But the march of progress continues all the time, and we’re constantly learning more about fibromyalgia like, for instance, the relationship between dopamine and fibromyalgia.
Research has shown that the link between dopamine and fibromyalgia might be much more significant than we ever thought. But what exactly is dopamine? And what role does it play in fibromyalgia?
What Is Dopamine?
Dopamine is something called a neurotransmitter. That means it is a chemical that transmits signals through the brain and affects the way you feel, think, and act. And dopamine is a very important one.
Dopamine is, on a basic level, responsible for feelings of pleasure. But when you dig a little deeper into the topic, you might realize that dopamine does a lot more than that. Dopamine is responsible for a large number of the functions in your body, and a low level of dopamine can lead to a number of different problematic conditions.
To begin with, your dopamines regulate pleasure, but it also controls some of your most basic functions like how effectively your nerves can transmit signals through your body that tell it to move. Many doctors now believe that conditions like Parkinson’s disease are caused by low levels of dopamine in the brain. And interestingly, multiple studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia also have low levels of dopamine.
Dopamine And Fibromyalgia
Obviously the fact that fibromyalgia patients show low levels of dopamine in the brain indicates that there is definitely some sort of link between the two. But how exactly would low levels of dopamine cause fibromyalgia symptoms?
Well, a normal level of dopamine is critical to a lot of the basic functions of the body. And low levels can lead to difficulty with moving, like having aching muscles and mysterious pains. In addition, low levels of dopamine also make it difficult to think clearly or concentrate. And this might explain some of the fibro-fog symptoms we commonly associate with fibromyalgia.
And more importantly, the role of dopamine in fibromyalgia might explain a lot about the origins of the condition. Until recently, most doctors have looked at fibromyalgia based on its physical symptoms. That makes sense, of course. Patients complain about the physical pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, so that’s what doctors want to treat.
But recent research has produced evidence that we may be missing an important element of the disease by looking at it as a purely physical condition. After all, many of the symptoms like IBS, mental confusion, and numbness in the hands are actually quite common among disorders of the central nervous system. We also know that fibromyalgia often occurs in people who have endured stressful events, yet another similarity that it has to other neurological disorders.
So the fact that a neurotransmitter like dopamine is usually low in people with fibromyalgia indicates that there’s more to there’s something to the idea that fibromyalgia may actually be a condition of the central nervous system.
What Does That Mean For You?
Well, to begin with, it means that if you have fibromyalgia, there’s a good chance that you’re struggling with low dopamine levels and don’t know it. Yet we already know how much low dopamine levels can affect your daily life, so you might want to consider getting your levels checked by a doctor.
And if you do have low dopamine, there are a few things you can do to fix that. First, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a good way to keep your dopamine levels high. Eat plenty of leafy greens like spinach and make sure to get all the vitamins you need. And though it’s often incredibly difficult to exercise when you have fibromyalgia, getting just a bit of walking in every day can really help your body’s natural dopamine production. You don’t need to push yourself too hard, just do whatever you feel comfortable with.
Finally, there are a few supplements that are known to help stimulate your dopamine production. L-theanine, an amino acid naturally found in your body, is a good choice. Tyrosine is another amino acid to increase dopamine production. And finally, fish oil can help increase your levels, as well as being just generally great for your body.
So, you tell us, what do you think of the relationship between dopamine and fibromyalgia? Let us know in the comments.