Unlocking a medical mystery
Fibromyalgia is a common musculoskeletal condition that causes chronic, widespread pain and fatigue and is potentially disabling. It is often accompanied by a consistent “cluster” of symptomatic concomitant conditions (such as ME/CFS, joint stiffness, and IBS) that suggest they share an underlying pathophysiology.
Fibromyalgia affects approximately 12 million Americans; women are far more likely to get this disease than men. Estimates vary; it has been suggested that fibromyalgia is present in at least 2% and possibly as high as 8% of the U.S. population. Still, despite the increase in research since the late 1970s, there are no specific lab tests to diagnose fibromyalgia and there is no cure. For the most part, the exact cause of fibromyalgia is not completely understood.
Scientists and clinicians can agree that in patients with fibromyalgia there is a problem with central pain processing. The exact nature of the heightened pain sensitivity in fibromyalgia patients is poorly understood; nonetheless, it is generally believed that the central sensitization is secondary to some combination of genetic and environmental factors that predisposes the patient. Physical trauma, infection, emotional distress, endocrine disorders and immune activation have all been hypothesized as potential triggering phenomena in susceptible patients.
Modern therapies have been focused on altering the perception of pain, or treating the numerous symptoms of the associated conditions. While some progress has been made, there still is a lot of room for improvement. Fibromyalgia is clearly a disabling disease that has yet to be fully accepted by both the medical and lay communities.
IMC is committed to the treatment of fibromyalgia and hopes to one day bring to market a treatment that targets a root cause of the condition.