Fibromyalgia, for the 4+ million US individuals affected, is still by many standards a complex and often perplexing condition. Most often, it becomes a disease of elimination rather than certainty with many doctors slowly navigating from fringe belief of its existence to medical certainty in regards to treatment. And yet, for those suffering from the chief complaint of chronic widespread pain, the consequences are all too familiar. Now, with an opiate overuse epidemic in full swing the importance of identifying new ways to diagnose and treat those affected has never been more pertinent.
Recent research has finally started to identify certain markers unique to fibromyalgia that will eventually led to more rapid diagnosis and per precise treatment protocols. By establishing a “molecular fingerprint” that is unique to fibromyalgia targeted therapy becomes significantly more attainable and ultimately leads to better outcomes. The new research headed out of Ohio State University College of Medicine gathered people both diagnosed with fibromyalgia and those with similar common mistakenly diagnosed ailments such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis.
Professor Kevin Hackshaw of the university helped lead the study. Professor Hawkshaw and his colleagues analyzed blood samples of over 120 people either diagnosed with fibromyalgia or similar diagnosis (RA, OA, Lupus). Using a new method called vibrational spectroscopy, the technique measures energy levels of molecules and chemical bonds.
The new test not only found analysis patterns that distinguished fibromyalgia from related disorders but also helped to accurately predict the patient’s conditions based on their molecular pattern. “The researchers liken these molecular signatures with “’molecular fingerprints’” and say these finding will soon help develop more targeted treatments for fibromyalgia. “ Professor Hackshaw and his treat aim to have the test ready for use within 5 years, by first examining the results in larger groups of 150-200+ to see if the initial promise can be replicated.
Fibromyalgia currently affects 2-8% of the global population with a vast majority being females. The importance of accurate diagnostic tools cannot be undermined. The signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia often coincide with the other mentioned disorders making it challenging for medical professionals to diagnose, and leading those afflicted to having delayed or inaccurate diagnoses altogether. With the promising results of the vibrational spectroscopy, one researcher commented, “ These initial results are remarkable…If we can help speed diagnosis for these patients, their treatment will be better, and they’ll likely have better outlooks. There’s nothing worse than being in a gray area where you don’t know what disease you have.”
Current management therapies offer an array of pain medications and nerve pain reducing agents targeted at calming the symptoms down. However, it cannot be overstated the importance of these individuals living a “inflammatory” free life with proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep/stress patterns. Alternative strategies are aimed at healing the gut lining within the body and eliminating “pro-inflammatory” foods such as grains, dairy, alcohol, etc in order to calm down the continuous inflammatory state these patients tend to live in. With the advent of new tests such as this one everyday, the future certainly looks promising for fibromyalgia stricken patients.