Today we’re going to talk about People with Fibromyalgia. Wallenberg Scholar, from Karolinska Institute, Camilla Svensson is out to solve a mystery. She believes fibromyalgia is extra challenging because it is hard to see. When a person does not have swollen tissues or when they cannot measure it in the blood, it creates a fear for many individuals with fibromyalgia—a fear of not being believed.
People with Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition where individuals develop widespread chronic pain. These individuals can also have an enhanced sensitivity. For instance, pressure from clothes or someone giving them a hug can be painful.
The Importance of Feeling Pain
Feeling pain is of vital importance to us as human beings. Pain signals our brain that something is wrong in our body. This is the reason we as humans avoid hurting ourselves. Chronic pain is a type of pain that persists for more than three months. When this happens it’s as if the body’s warning system is stuck in a loop and warns constantly. Even though there are no signs of danger.
The goal for Camilla Svensson and her research is to understand, on a molecular and cellular level, what it is it that leads to pain in fibromyalgia. The path to understanding pain in this particular case her started with Camilla Svensson’s father.
Too Personal for Her
Her dad got injured quite badly and he never recovered. Since then, he has been suffering from chronic pain. It was when she saw how the life of her dad changed that she really felt that this was something she wanted to devote her research to people with fibromyalgia.
Researching the specific type of pain her father is enduring felt too personal, but pain research it was. She believes that what triggers the pain is hiding in the microscopic world.
Looking Forward to Contribute
There are very limited drugs available today that can be used to treat chronic pain. But at the same time, she is hoping to at least come forward with some clues to contribute to the betterment of these individuals. Recently, she did find something that is really interesting.
Camilla Svensson’s research group has discovered that people with fibromyalgia have something in their blood that people without it lack. They have found that antibodies seem to trigger the pain.
Antibodies are part of our body’s immune system. Their job is to attach themselves to viruses, bacteria, and other threats so that other immune cells can find and eliminate the danger. But in people with fibromyalgia, a certain type of antibody accumulates in the dorsal root ganglia: clusters of nerve cells. Here they affect the cells that are adjacent to the nerve cells.
Camilla Svensson’s hypothesis concludes that these environmental changes trigger the nerve cells, causing them to send constant pain signals. She had been involved in a lot of screening through a large number of samples. And it seems as if about half have these kinds of antibodies.
Misprogrammed Immune System
This finding could mean that fibromyalgia has evolved to change its category. From pain where there is no physical explanation, and where some are not even believed, to pain that can be explained as a misprogrammed immune system in people with Fibromyalgia.
After her publication showing that there is this antibody component in fibromyalgia, she received close to 1,000 e-mails from individuals, or even their family members, asking questions, expressing hope, and really just wanting to cheer us along. It is a huge motivation for her and her team.