Research Progress Related to Fibromyalgia
Investigators at institutions across the country, many supported by the National Institutes of Health, are working to understand the causes of fibromyalgia and to develop new treatment strategies. Current research efforts include the following.
- By studying the neural pathways that underlie pain in fibromyalgia and other chronic pain diseases, investigators are working to find ways to identify more effective pain management approaches.
- Many people with fibromyalgia benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches people how to lessen pain sensations by changing the way they think about pain. Scientists are using brain imaging studies to assess how this type of therapy affects neural pathways, with the goal being to improve pain management through improved psychosocial interventions.
- Researchers are working to develop imaging and laboratory tests that distinguish fibromyalgia from other conditions that cause pain. By providing a diagnostic tool, these tests would enable doctors to avoid treating fibromyalgia with opioids, which are potentially addictive and ineffective toward the disorder.
- Trials are underway to test the benefit of transcranial electrical stimulation, in which a small medical device noninvasively delivers low electric currents to the brain. The approach, which scientists believe works by altering pain-processing networks in the brain, has already shown some promise in treating depression and chronic pain.
- Other clinical trials are assessing the efficacy of various types of therapy—such as light, music, exercise, or heat therapy—as well as the impact of nutritional supplements on lessening the pain and improving sleep in people with fibromyalgia.
For more info
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health National Institutes of Health
American College of Rheumatology
National Fibromyalgia Association
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