Fibromyalgia News

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Risky behaviors associated with back pain, depression and anxiety in teenagers

A woman clutching her back in pain

A new study indicates that adolescents who experience back pain more frequently are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors including smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and also report higher levels of mental health problems like anxiety and depression. The complete findings are published in the Journal of Public Health.

During adolescence, the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain (pain arising from the bones, joints or muscles) in general, and back pain in particular rises steeply. Although often dismissed as trivial and fleeting, adolescent back pain is responsible for substantial health care use, school absence, and interference with day-to-day activities in some children researchers found.

The aim of this study was to determine whether adolescents who experience back pain more often were also more likely to report other health risk indicators, such as alcohol use, smoking, school absenteeism, and depression or anxiety.

Researchers used a large data set collected from approximately 6500 teenagers. The proportion of participants reporting smoking, drinking, and missing school rose incrementally with increasing frequency of pain. For example, 14-15 year olds that experienced pain more than once a week were 2-3 times more likely to have drunk alcohol or smoked in the past month than those who rarely or never had pain. Similarly, students that experienced pain more than once a week were around twice as likely to have missed school in the previous term. The trend with anxiety and depression was less clear, although there was a marked difference between the children who reported no pain, and those who reported frequent pain.

Back pain and unhealthy behaviors not only occur together, but also track into adulthood. This means that they are responsible for current issues, and also have implications for future health with an increased risk of illness such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. Adolescent back pain may play a role in characterizing poor overall health, and risk of chronic disease throughout life. The researchers involved with the study believe this is of concern because the developing brain may be susceptible to negative influences of toxic substances, and use in early adolescence may increase the risk of substance abuse and mental health problems in later life. (Ed: This could potentially also lead to an increase in invisible illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)).

"Findings like this provide an argument that we should be including pain in the broader conversation about adolescent health," said the paper's lead author, Steven Kamper. "Unfortunately our understanding of the causes and impacts pain in this age group is quite limited, the area is badly in need of more research."

Reference: "Back pain, mental health and substance use are associated in adolescents," is available to the public here:

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Whole30 and Paleo for Fibromyalgia: Science versus Anecdotal Success

Whole30 and Paleo for Fibromyalgia: Science versus Anecdotal SuccessThe internet is currently awash with chatter about fibromyalgia patients using the Whole30 diet as a therapy for their condition. Many have taken it upon themselves to adopt the dietary intervention after reading the testimonials of others but plenty more have been 'prescribed' it by nutritionists and even their rheumatologists in some cases. The science that it is of benefit however is far from clear cut.

The Whole30 diet is essentially a version of the Paleolithic diet, often referred to also as the 'Caveman Diet' or the 'Stone Age Diet'. It is based on the premise that our bodies are essentially the same as they were in Paleolithic times, evolutionarily speaking, thus we should be eating the same diet that our ancient ancesters did to atain or maintain optimal health. Indeed, this sounds like a logical approach to take and it's fairly safe to say it is a far healthier way to eat than the typical modern Western diet with its processed microwave meals and fast food. 

If the diet is to be recommended in the context of a therapy for a condition as painful, disabling and serious as fibromyalgia however, patients should expect this advice to be based on specific studies that prove its efficacy and safety. Having searched the main medical research databases it quickly becomes apparent that this is currently lacking.

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Fibromyalgia symptoms may be caused by treatable virus

Areas of pain and inflammation in fibromyalgia​An Alabama doctor believes fibromyalgia, related chronic pain syndromes and even digestive disorders have gastrointestinal viral infection at their heart. His planned Phase II anti-viral drug trial will put this theory to the test.

In the clinical trials that will start as early as February 2013, surgeon Dr. William Pridgen and colleagues will look at over 100 fibromyalgia patients in the hopes that Pridgen's theory is correct. In the best case scenario this would move the fibromyalgia community a step closer to a treatment option that targets the cause of symptoms rather than simply suppressing them as is the case with current painkilling and anti-inflammatory therapies.

Dr. Carol Duffy, a University of Alabama assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, will assist Dr. Pridgen by analyzing lab results for specific immune system markers in the hope this will lead to a diagnostic tool for physicians.

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Underlying causes of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome may differ

Fibromyalgia patient sleeping​A new study suggests the underlying causes of the often co-existing medical conditions fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome may actually differ substantially - bucking the assumption that they are different manifestations of the same pathological processes.

Comparing symptoms experienced by patients of both illnesses it is obvious that they have much in common; in fact it is often a matter of whether pain or fatigue is more prominent that is used as the distinguishing factor. Add the fact that many patients appear to suffer from both conditions at the same time and it is easy to see why they are frequently considered to have similar causes and pathophysiologies.

Now, Dr. Benjamin Natelson, MD, head of the Pain & Fatigue Study Center at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, has published the results of a thorough review of the best current evidence to determine if this is truly the case. Dr. Natelson is an expert in neurology and the infectious and immunological causes of pain and fatigue and is considered one of the foremost experts on fibromyalgia (FM) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

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Fibromyalgia pain helped by low dose naltrexone (LDN)

Naltrexone CapsulesResults of a new study reported at the recent American Academy of Pain Medicine 28th Annual Meeting show that treatment with low-dose naltrexone (LDN) significantly reduces daily pain in those who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist drug whose main use is in the treatment of drug addiction. However, when used at much lower dosages in the region of 1.5 to 4.5mg it has been found to modulate immune function and have beneficial effects on the brain. This has led to its use "off-label" for the treatment of a variety of autoimmune and other chronic diseases, from multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease, to chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

The discovery of the beneficial effects of LDN are attributed to Bernard Bihari, MD, a physician with a clinical practice in New York City, who in 1985 discovered its effects on the body's immune system helped aided HIV-positive patients. He soon found LDN was also beneficial for his patients with various forms of cancer and also those with autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Since then many other physicians have begun prescribing LDN for their patients but large scale, quality clinical trials and the official backing of the medical establishment have been lacking.

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