Still very difficult to diagnose, fibromyalgia would touch 2-4% of the general population, and mostly women. It is defined by the WHO as “a syndrome consisting of chronic symptoms of moderate to severe intensity including diffuse chronic pain without apparent cause and sensitivity to pressure, associated with fatigue, cognitive and sleep disorders and numerous somatic complaints“.
Due to the wide variability of symptoms – diffuse chronic pain in the muscles, tendons and joints, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders or even anxiety or depressive disorders – the diagnosis of fibromyalgia remains delicate. Still, “there is no organic lesion or biological biomarker that makes it possible to objectify a diagnosis of fibromyalgia“, indicates Inserm.
Nevertheless, a new study published on May 3, 2022 in the journal Diagnoses could bring new clues to identify the causes of fibromyalgia. In recent years, studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia may show signs of damage to the small fibers of the somatic and autonomic nervous systems. Fibers of the somatic system carry messages about disease and injury, including pain and itching, hot and cold. The fibers of the autonomic system, they transmit messages allowing to regulate the internal organs.
Nerve damage in nearly 50% of fibromyalgia cases
If the link between the alteration of these fibers and fibromyalgia seems known, the frequency of the pathology of these small fibers has not been systematically evaluated in patients with fibromyalgia. To fill these gaps, a team of researchers from the Sapienza University of Rome has identified more than 360 articles on the subject. Of the 88 eligible, 20 met the criteria to be included in a meta-analysis. In total, data from 903 fibromyalgia patients were analyzed.
The small somatic fibers were altered in 49% fibromyalgia patients, and autonomic fibers were also 45%. Figures which show that a considerable proportion – nearly 50% – of patients with fibromyalgia are affected by these attacks on the nervous system. “Nevertheless, heterogeneity and inconsistencies between studies call into question the exact role of small fiber deficiency in fibromyalgia symptoms.“, ends the study.
- A systematic review and meta-analysis of the prevalence of small fiber impairment in patients with fibromyalgia, DiagnosesMay 3, 2022
- Fibromyalgia, a chronic and diffuse pain, finally recognized, InsermJune 2021
- Fibromyalgia: the causes of chronic pain soon to be revealed?
- Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease
- Fibromyalgia: it also affects men