What did I do wrong? Was it something that I did? Is there anything that I could have done to prevent this? Why did I get fibromyalgia? These are questions that I've asked myself many times, and no doubt you may have asked them as well. When something as tragic as an incurable, chronic illness strikes a person, we can only feel that it was our fault that this happened to us. Over the years, scientists have debated this question over and again. Many have strong opinions about why people develop fibromyalgia. Some of the theories that many have believed to be the cause are the following:
Trauma such as a car accident, a slip and fall, and any other physical trauma to the body has been named a possible cause of fibromyalgia. It's interesting that many of my fibro friends and support group members have stated that after a whiplash or major injury from an accident, whether a car accident or otherwise, triggered the disease. In my case, I had a whiplash injury that I didn't know about; I didn't think that I was hurt. A little old lady, bless her heart, was pulling out of a parking space that I just pulled into, and of course, she didn't see me. Her front bumper caught my back bumper and ripped half of it off. When the cars hit, my neck was turned in her direction upon impact (I was waving and flagging for her to stop). But, to this day, I have the most trouble on that side of my neck and shoulder area. You can't convince me that this small incident didn't have anything to do with the pain I experience in that part of my body. It wasn't until years later that I developed weird symptoms, but basically ignored them. But, when my next trauma happened, I could ignore it no longer. This time, while at one of the schools I work for as a bus driver, I slipped and fell on a patch of mud. I thought I came out of it with just a sprained ankle. But, after three months still wearing a brace and experiencing swelling, the workers comp doctor suggested that I see my family doctor because he felt it was something else other than a sprained ankle. Within two months, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Three years after my diagnosis, some guy hit the back of the school bus that I was driving while I was sitting at a stop sign. He left the scene in his smashed up car, by the way, leaving me with 50 kids on the bus, and another whiplash injury and a back sprain. Now, my pain has increased. Some doctors still call this a theory; what do you think?
I had no idea why the fibromyalgia specialist that I found about a year after my diagnosis asked me what was my childhood like. For starters, I was "traumatized" when I realized that he was spending more than five minutes with me, and secondly, he wasn't treating me like a car that needed a brake job, but as a person that needed whole body treatment. And to ask a question like that caused me to reflect back on my childhood. I didn't experience anything as traumatically as sexual or physical abuse. I was raised in a Christian household and didn't have alcoholic parents. So, I thought that question really didn't apply to me until I remembered the teasing and bulling in elementary school! My doctor proceeds to explain to me that people who are in emotionally charged situations on a chronic basis develop a stress response, called "fight or flight,” from events that happened to us or our reaction to them. This is the physiological reaction in the body which allows the body to "fight" off attackers or "flight"- flee from the situation. This is why traumatic events such as sexual or physical abuse and alcoholism in the household can cause one to develop fibromyalgia. Theory in retrospect? What do you think?
The Epstein- Barr virus (EBV), the cause of infectious mononucleosis, has been named a possible contributor to chronic fatigue syndrome. According to National Institutes of Health (NIH) there is no clear-cut evidence that the Epstein-Barr virus, or any other virus, is the primary cause of CFS . But, researchers have discovered that CFS sufferers have very high EBV antibody levels. Other viruses have been linked to CFS such as retrovirses, a group which includes leukemia and AIDS virus. Because multiple viruses may be a factor, we can conclude that CFS is not caused by any particular virus, but when exposed to one of these viruses, the immune system is compromised, and the virus takes over. Is this theory or fact? What do you think?
Disturbance In Brain Chemistry
Researchers have found elevated levels of spinal fluid substance P, a pain amplifier; lower levels of serotonin, and low production of cortisol (a stress hormone). A recent MRI study of the brain conducted by Dr. Patrick Wood of Louisiana State University Medical Center in Shreveport, LA, has revealed a possible root cause of fibromyalgia is a lack of dopamine (a brain chemical) in the brain. His studies revealed that fibromyalgia patients had significantly lower dopamine levels. In his drug study, patients were given medication to increase dopamine levels (medicines usually given to Parkinson Disease patients). Patients using this medication reported significant improvement of pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia. Is this dopamine theory really a theory, or is it fact? No one will really say with 100% certainty. More research is definitely needed. What do you think?
Is it reasonable to think that any one of these possibilities is the cause of fibromyalgia? Or is a combination of these factors the possible cause? Scientists have stated that there is no conclusive evidence to state them as fact. But, as a fibromyalgia sufferer who has experienced all of these possibilities, I say it's time to move these "theories" and "possibilities" into "facts" and "conclusives.” What do you think?