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Fibromyalgia Is Not All In Your Head, New Research Confirms
Date:6/20/2013

with Albany Medical Center neurologists Dr. Charles E. Argoff and Dr. James Wymer and Dr. James Storey of Upstate Clinical Research Associates (Albany, NY), the study was funded by Forest Laboratories and Eli Lilly.  Both pharmaceutical companies have developed FDA-approved medications with similar functions (Serotonin/Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors, SNRI) that provide at least some degree of relief for many fibromyalgia patients.

"Knowing how these drugs were supposed to work on molecules in the brain," Dr. Albrecht added, "we had evidence that similar molecules were involved in the function of nerve endings on the blood vessels. Therefore, we hypothesized that fibromyalgia might involve a pathology in that location." As the results demonstrate, they were correct.

A Thermostat for the Skin

Importantly, the excessive nerve fibers were concentrated around tiny muscular valves, called arteriole-venule (AV) shunts (see diagram).  In humans, these shunts are found in the palms of our hands and soles of our feet and work like the radiator in a car. In warm conditions, the shunts close, which forces blood into the capillaries at the skin surface to radiate heat from the body. Under cold conditions, the shunts open allowing blood to bypass the capillaries to conserve heat, which is why our hands get cold.

According to Dr. Albrecht, "the excess sensory innervation may explain why fibromyalgia patients typically have especially tender and painful hands."

Noting that blood flow to the hands is normally known to be diverted to muscles during exercise, Dr. Rice proposes that "That mismanaged blood flow due to malfunctioning shunts could also interfere with blood flow to the muscles throughout the body. This could be the source of wide spread muscular pain, achiness and fatigue which are thought to be due to a build
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