Over the years my sister and I have learned it is better and more fun to laugh about life’s predicaments rather than cry. We have numerous inside jokes, and fibromyalgia is fair game when it comes to our humor. Anyone who suffers from FM understands that your once fertile and competent brain becomes a mush of confusion and incoherence. The corresponding joke is that I “used to be the smart sister.”
It is true. I was once her “go to” whenever she needed an answer on most anything. But since developing FM I have been reduced to the baby sister she feels the need to shelter and protect. I have to say I love how nurturing she is of me, but I MISS MY BRAIN!
The last few days Health and Fibromyalgia blogs have been a buzz with a study just published by The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, which claims there is verifiable evidence of abnormal brain activity in patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
Dr. Eric Guedj at Centre Hospitalier-University de la Timone in France conducted the study by performing brain imaging called single photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT.
The imaging showed that women with the syndrome had “brain perfusion” — or blood flow abnormalities —compared to the healthy women. The researchers then found that these abnormalities were directly correlated with the severity of disease symptoms.
An increase in blood flow was found in the brain region known to discriminate pain intensity, the researchers found.
The findings were published in the November issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
The result of this study has many positive implications for people with Fibromyalgia.
Cognitive functioning, memory and concentration problems
This is one of the greatest complaints and issues people with FM have. We have lovingly come to refer to this as Fibrofog, because that is what it is like – like walking around all day in a fog. It is hard to process thought clearly and sometimes even speak in coherent sentences. For me this has been the most frustrating thing I deal with. I am not the smart sister anymore! And the greater my pain level the thicker the fog.
I always believed it was more that just fatigue from poor sleep and unrelenting pain. I genuinely believed there was something wrong with my brain process, and now there is verifiable proof of this. There is an increase of blood flow to the area of the brain that discriminates pain intensity, but the study also shows there is a decrease of blood flow within an area involved in emotional responses to pain.
Reinforces that Fibromyalgia is a real disease/disorder
Fibromyalgia is called the “invisible syndrome” because lab tests and X-rays cannot diagnose it. To date there is only the trigger/tender point test used to diagnose FM. Developed in 1990 by The American College of Rheumatology, the criteria is that a patient must feel pain in a minimum of 11/18 tender points throughout the body.
For the many health care professionals who remain skeptical of the reality of Fibromyalgia, the tender point test is not proof enough. But with the reinforcement of the brain imaging study, Fibromyalgia is more likely to be seen as a real disorder. This will hopefully translate into more testing and better healthcare for patients with FM.
Thank you Dr. Guedi! Now when my sister tells me I am not the smart sister anymore I can tell her my brain is abnormal. I have an excuse! Then I will remind her that her only excuse is that she is blonde!
Quote source, Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay Reporter, Monday, November 3, 2008.