By J.D. Adrian
An announcement from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, should end the decades old debate about whether the syndrome known as fibromyalgia is a real disease. Bruce S. Gillis, MD, MPH, lead researcher and founder of EpicGenetics, reports that after years of research, they have found “fibromyalgia is an immune system dysregulation disease relating to the production of protein molecules called chemokines and cytokines by a certain type of white blood cell” and “confirms that fibromyalgia is an immune system disorder,” reports North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS).
This revelation from the scientific community will end the debate about an illness that affects more than 12 million people in the United States, a number comparable to cancer. The 1 in 12 women and 1 in 20 men affected worldwide by this disease should no longer have to face the stigma of having an unidentifiable illness and to be told it was “all in their head.”
The origins of this illness go back 200 years in the medical literature. It has been known since the early 19th century as chronic rheumatism or muscular rheumatism. In 1904 Sir William Gowers gave a lecture at a London hospital proposing that it be called fibrositis, believing that the immune system was attacking the muscles and causing inflammation. This idea was abandoned in the 1970s due to the failure of research to prove the theory’s validity. The syndrome has since been called fibromyalgia, derived from the Latin meaning fiber, muscle, and pain.
Part of the problem identifying this disease lies in the many and varied symptoms of muscle pain, fatigue, brain fog, irritable bowel syndrome, and sleep disruption. During the last few years, pharmaceutical companies have developed drugs that ameliorate some of the symptoms, namely pain, but patients mostly have had to treat their individual symptoms themselves by over-the-counter remedies, while doctors scratched their heads in confusion. For example, there is no reliable remedy for the FM sleep disorder, as abnormal brain waves interrupt deep sleep, resulting in poor sleep that is non-restorative. Some patients have reported spending tens of thousands of dollars over 5 to 10 years trying to find the cause of their illness, while at the same time being labeled hypochondriacs or as having a mental illness.
A patient can now take a blood test that will diagnose the illness, something that has long been sought by those affected. NAPS reports that the FM Test, which costs $744, is a quick, simple blood test that offers conclusive results. The results come back in about a week. They will provide the necessary paperwork to send to insurance companies for reimbursement.
Also according to NAPS, “anyone with fibromyalgia symptoms can have his or her doctor order the test. Alternatively, patients may take a simple questionnaire at www.TheFMTest.com and utilize an FM Test physician to request a test. Those already diagnosed with fibromyalgia can take the test to confirm and establish a baseline that can be used to track treatment effectiveness.”
“The FM Test represents an objective biomarker that will prove useful in the diagnosis of an enigmatic disease,” said Ernest Brahn, MD, professor of medicine, Division of Rheumatology, at the UCLA School of Medicine.
No report of new and effective protocols to treat this disease was announced, indicating that the fight is not over. Hopefully, continuing research will soon provide more answers on the cause of the illness and new treatments. Patients should inform their doctors of this announcement and review whatever protocols they are using.