Is Fibromyalgia a Form of Neuropathic Pain?

fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain

Fibromyalgia patients are fully aware of how agonizing fibro pain is.  Understanding how neuropathic pain works can somehow help us to learn more about the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia.

What Is Neuropathic Pain?

Pain is categorized in three groups – idiopathic, nociceptive and neuropathic. Of all three, it is neuropathic pain that is a bit different. Instead of being a cause of physical pain, neuropathic comes from the nerves. It usually occurs when the nervous system is damaged. There are various conditions that can lead to neuropathic pain. They include alcoholism and multiple sclerosis. Any condition that can trigger nerve damage is considered a neuropathic pain.

Is Fibromyalgia a Form of Neuropathic Pain?

Doctors found evidence that almost half of fibromyalgia patients suffer from some extent of nerve damage. However, this also mean that almost half of the patients are suffering from conditions unrelated to nerve damage.

The reason behind why fibro patients experience pain in the nerves in still unclear. Some have suggested that the nervous system can eventually become hypersensitized due to pain. As a result, it sends pain signals to the brain even without an actual damage to the nerves. This can be the case with fibromyalgia. Some patients tend to develop fibromyalgia after experiencing a physical or mental trauma. There are evidences that show both cases may lead to over-sensitivity of the nervous system.

Another possibility is the body’s immune cells, microglia, affecting the nervous system. The immune cells play important roles in neuropathic pain. These cells pass into the barrier between the brain and the blood to treat the damaged nerve endings. However, the cells can sometimes become hypersensitive. When this happens, they start picking up the signals of the damaged nerves and end up releasing cytokines. Cytokines trigger inflammation on the nerves and sends more pain signals. As you can see, the process can lead to an endless cycle of pain. This can cause even more damages in the nerves and  hypersensitivity.

The most compelling evidence in this theory is that fibromyalgia patients tend to have an elevated level of leptin in their blood. In fact, researchers have said that one way to determine the severity of the pain is by measuring the level of leptin. Leptin also passes into the barrier between the brain and blood. This triggers the release of microglia and the cycle of pain continues. Researchers are hopeful that by understanding how fibromyalgia patients release more leptin, they can find a cure for fibromyalgia.

31 Comments

  • I think this is my problem, I have 3 herniated discs L3,4,5
    And after I recentkynhad a pacemaker inserted my left shoulder and arm pain is unbearable
    My cardio says it’s frozen shoukder! It’s worse
    than that’,,, the pain goes down The arm as well ,,I have leg cramps at night

    .

    • I, too suffer with fibromyalgia. I am so sorry that you are in such pain. I believe that anytime that there is injury to the body, that the fibro reacts sometimes violently. If you have not seen a fibro doctor, you sure need to. The sooner you get started on effective medication, the better off you will be. Prayers for you!

  • I was actually diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy before fibro but with all the other problems I’ve got, to find out most are linked to fibro was really scary.

    • Me too , tried everything, nothing has worked. I have rheumatoid, osteo arthritis and fibromyalgia. The miracle for me has been CBD oil, have been taking it since January, its a miracle

  • Could you do an article on is fybromyalgia a symptom or a disease. I always have known it to be a disease due to all the inflammation that is caused. The symptom would be the pain. Please clarify this for me and fibro patience that believe it’s a symptom. If it is a symptom then it’s s symptom to what. Thank you for clarifying this.

  • No doctor, including neurologists, have been able to diagnose my array of pain and severe weaknesses. I seem to have developed hypersensitivity. A virus, even weak ones, trigger a 3 plus week severe reaction that leaves me bedridden and unable to move much. As well, any injectiontion, I.e. mouth freezing, flu shot or treatment like this, will make me even sicker for up to a month. This is the first article that even comes close to helping me understand my condition. I’m wondering if any one else on earth has this?

    • Totally relatable situation. I believe many people with our issues go through this. I’m dealing with it on several myself. Some are due to it, some are possibly due to other illnesses/diseases, others are physical from osteoarthritis and such. It’s horrible.

  • I’m having severe pain in my feet and legs. Nothing seems to help. Dnt get much sleep because of it. Any suggestions appreciated.

    • Hi Clara,I have been suffering from Restless legs syndrome and painful feet.My doctor is sending me to see a podiatrist and she prescribed Pregabalan which has helped with the restless legs and I can sleep a lot better but still tired as a side effect from medication,only just started it this week so maybe the tiredness will wear off.I hope you get some help as it is awful living with this pain,keep going back to your doctor’s until you find something that helps xx

      • Hi Ann, was it your doctor who prescribed the pregabalan or the podiatrist? I suffer sometimes awful with rls been on other meds but nothing working, thanks in advance

  • I’m still waiting for a neurologist to be willing to see me. I have one for my migraines, but he’s a specialist. I’ve developed poor coordination, speech difficulty, mental health concerns, a feeling that bee’s are buzzing in my feet, legs, and sometimes farther up. Medication? Possibly, but have been on the same things for long enough that any side effects would have appeared sooner. My physicians are baffled.

    • The feelings in your feet and legs is something I’ve been having since my newest diagnosis of CIDP…. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. I’ve had Fibromyalgia over 20 years now. Also have DDD, bulging disks, spinal stenosis, clinical depression, anxiety, PTSD, chronic fatigue, sleep apnea, interstitial cystitis. Last fall I started losing my balance and stumbling a lot. My PCP did blood work and MRI. She sent me to a neurologist. He did the physical exam and EMG. Mentioned something about CIDP and I went home. My PCP got a very vague report from him. She called him, but he was still vague. He said for me to see a neurosurgeon. Saw him and was told that I had pinched L5 nerve but didn’t need surgery. As he was leaving I asked him about CIDP. He replied..oh, that’s an autoimmune problem….and left. Back to my PCP, who found neuromuscular Dr. for me. Three more blood tests and off I went. Made hubby go with me because I had a bad feeling about the results. This Dr was great, even though I had to go through the whole painful EMG again. That EMG was so much more painful, I was crying. She met with us afterwards and gave her diagnosis. She said I did have CIDP, an autoimmune disease. It’s chronic like everything else I have. My immune system is attacking me (oh, why not). It’s destroying the sheath covering on my nerves. The bare spots are where the messages from the brain to my feet and legs gets messed up. Parts of the messages get lost because of the bare areas that can’t keep the messages from staying on the nerve. CIDP starts in the feet and works it’s way up the legs and body. Now I am feeling the buzzing bees under the skin in feet and legs. I’m hoping you can get in to musculoskeletal neurologist. God bless you.

    • I have had Fibromyalgia around 15 years. I have. Reynauds in my hands and feet. Very painful. Started tipping over, having balance problems, and gait issues last fall. After many tests and doctor’s, I ended up having an EMG at a neurologists office. He was somewhat vague about the results of the tests, I ended up at a Musculoskeletal neurologist. She repeated the EMG tests much more thoroughly and painfully I might add. I had an autoimmune marker showing up from blood tests done prior to my appointment with her. She ordered more blood drawn, and I was diagnosed with CIDP-Chronic inflammatory demyelinating Polyneuropathy. It’s very rare…3-9 people out of 100,000 have it. My immune system is attacking my nerves, eating away at the myelin (covering) over the nerves. When you mentioned the bees sensation, it caught my attention!! I have that feeling in both arms and legs. The specialist told me that was part of the neuropathy. Please ask to see a neurologist. You probably don’t have what I do, but you hopefully can get some answers. May God bless you. Sharon

  • I’m 54 years old and I’ve had fibromyalgia for years. I have this type of nerve pain along with many other strange symptoms. The most consistent anoyance for me are daily wide spread muscle cramps.

  • I have been diagnosed by my gp, however, the consultant at hospital wouldn’t give me a diagnosis. After several tests including a PET scan and MRI where other things were found, she more or less said nothing was wrong and I was discharged. I know I have fibromyalgia and I am frustrated I can’t get a diagnosis. I am wondering if I could ask for a 2nd opinion but don’t want to put any more strain on the nhs.

  • I also have fibromyalgia, ddd, bulging discs and 3rd stage kidney disease i have been seen by several drs my doctor for pain management just retired. If anyone knows of any pain management drs that could possibly help me with this pain that never goes away please email me at tgorham911@comcast.net i live in PA. thank you and May God bless you.

  • Alison,
    Get a referral from your gp for a Rhumatologist. A Rhumatologist diagnosed and treats my Fibromyalgia.
    Good luck to you and best wishes.

  • My fibro is killing me and nothing works just oxcarbazepine 600mg 1 pill at night so I’m not stretching so I can sleep I have a phychiatrist trying to help me another doctor had me so drugged up was not present so I wouldn’t kill my self because I get tired of being tired being in pain all the time it’s aweful I keep telling myself my kids and husband need me

  • Aged 58
    Pain in hands wrists elbows shoulders neck head heel knees hips lower back shooting pain in arms tingling in arms hands and fingers numbness in fingers.
    Overweight bmi 33. Not active due to fatigue pain.

    I am on gabapentin – nerve pain helps a lot.
    Tramadol – general pain not sure if it helps. It did with the co codamol added in when things got bad.
    Co codamol was taken off this gp says not to take tramadol & co codamol??
    Amytriptyline – helps with sleep and restless leg pains.
    Fluoextine- keeps me stable
    Liothyronine – underactive thyriod.
    Propanolol- anxiety symptoms.

    Diagnosed :
    fibromyalgia
    Hashimotos thyroiditis
    Migraine
    OsteoArthritis knees, c spine
    Anxiety
    Depression
    Panic
    Low self esteem
    Long qtc being investigated.

    Help……

  • I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia for 17 years. I have always complained with neuropathy pain. Neurologists and rhematologist both don’t believe I should have this pain as I don’t have any of the disease states to give me non-specific peripheral neuropathy. I no longer see these specialists, and there have been many over the years!! I do use a generic brand of Vicks salve every night on my feet and up my legs. The pain is much less and my feet are still numb, but at least the pain is deminished! Good luck to all who have been diagnosed. The pharmacy’s drugs don’t do much to help. Go natural if you can.

  • Dear chrystal Tyson I completely understand how you feel I feel the same way had to.get help.i take meds now for desperation and anxiety I thought I was a burden on my family but it wasn’t true . Took me awhile to realize that I have to just go by day by day and my family understands that there are days that I can’t do certain things but I’m in a lot of pain. So you see you’re not alone that’s the hardest thing as you think you’re alone and you wondering what you did wrong to deserve so much pain I don’t know about you but I got depressed because of things I couldn’t do now that I used to do I even had to get up and give up my job that I loved I think that was the hardest thing of all means you’re changing everybody else around you the same but you’re changing but like I said I was wrong my family loves me just the way I am and I’m sure your family loves you Just the Way You Are just have to go day-by-day or minute by minute life is too short you have to try and make the best of it I’ve been on gabapentin while I am on gabapentin I’ve done acupuncture I do Biofreeze I do the TENS machine that might be a thing for you a TENS machine you might ask your doctor about that heating pad ice physical therapy in a pool that help me to a little bit might look into that I hope everything goes well for you and chin up just remember you’re not alone

  • I am 56 and I triggered in 2009 which led to my fibro diagnosis. I know i had it before my trigger which was a fall down a flight of stairs. I had long blamed all my pain on my osteoarthritis and systemic lupus, but when after 8 weeks i was still suffering from incredible pain, my new rheumatologist diagnosed my – 16/18 tender points (11 are needed for formal diagnosis). Upon further discussions, we discovered symptoms that actually started during childhood.

    I had it mostly under control – functioning at about a 7/10 on really good days. This year, i ended up with shingles which flattened me for 5 weeks. The shingles pain has never left and I’m now at an 8 our 9 on good days. It just keeps getting worse. To make it even worse, i moved 1000 miles away and need new doctors. I’ve been referred to a pain management guy who is also a neurologist. Gabapentin is almost useless now. I was on opioids for years, voluntarily came off them, and now my old doctors all agree that i need them back.

    • I know wat you mean I was diagnosed I 1999.when I got into a car accident..but I know I had it before this…but Drs kept on saying that it’s arthritis..ever since then I’ve have fibro..osteoarthritis..ibs..anxiety..sleep apnea..blurred eyes visions..ive been on cymbalta for long time..i don’t even think they work anymore…sometimes I wish I could change body with someone…cant sleep most of nights..take sleeping pills..i. prescribed opiods…but I get constipated to much….and lately I’ve been taking all kinds of different things to make me go bathroom..and I still don’t go…having lots cramps and gaz…but nothing else..i wondering…if someone knows if there something to help me with this constipation…..like it’s so crazy sometimes Im. 4 to 5 days without going and I still have to push it out…if I got to go…im so tired of this fibro..there always something else…my Dr don’t want give me nothi ng else…plz help

      • Diane you sound like me I could hardly have a BM. I got a bottle of Restore from Amazon in 2 weeks was having reg. BM it’s like $50 a bottle but I started very slow 1/4 tsp. Two times daily for 7-10 days then go up 1/4 tea. Every 7-10 days it worked great for me I used 2 bottles in 3 months now I don’t need it any more I gave up my pain pills in Dec. 2017 that really helped the constipation!!!

  • Hi Diane. I dealt with horrible constipation for a long time. I take 4 Dulcolax stool softeners every night then at the weeks end I take 3 Dulcolax laxative tablets over night. Sometimes it takes all day to go but most times I will drink a 16 oz cup of orange juice or I will eat a bowl of oatmeal which makes me go almost immediately. I try to drink plenty of water too. You will need to figure out your dosage of the Dulcolax. The directions say 3 but I had to do 4. I hope this help you. I hate fibromyalgia more and more with each passing day. I am almost 73 and it continues to get worse with age. I can’t do much of anything anymore. I have had so many areas of pain and now it’s really bad in my hands, feet and lower back. I pray for healing all of the time. Hang in there.

  • I too was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 20 years ago, when I was in my thirties. I have all the diseases of old age as well, but some others too, like chronic hashimotos thyroiditis( I was foolish and let the endo surgeon remove my thyroid,) I HIGHLY recommend you find an integrative Doctor before resorting to a thyroidectomy on fear of cancer. My doctor told me that there was an 80% chance that I had follicular thyroid cancer, so I let him remove it…2 weeks later, NO CANCER! Later found out that sometimes thyroid meds reduce nodules and show no cancer.
    Anyway My biggest concern now is a problem I’ve been having for about 2 years now…(before thyroidectomy.) My fingers and hands contract inwards while the muscles of my forearms are tight and very painful. This mostly happens when I try to pick up and hold small things like pens/pencils, coffee cup, and other things. It has recently started to wake my up at night. All the muscles in my body have started to betray me as well, my lower back, my calf muscles, my neck and back muscles, not involuntary contractions, just painful if used too much..on top of this I have osteoarthritis in my spine, shoulders and hip. I can’t do the normal thing other 56 year old women can do, I honestly feel like an 80 yr. old, and I’m only 56 🙁

  • I have had Fibromyalgia around 20 years. I have. Reynauds in my hands and feet. Very painful. Started tipping over, having balance problems, and gait issues last fall. After many tests and doctor’s, I ended up having an EMG at a neurologists office. He was somewhat vague about the results of the tests, I ended up at a Musculoskeletal neurologist. She repeated the EMG tests much more thoroughly and painfully I might add. I had an autoimmune marker showing up from blood tests done prior to my appointment with her. She ordered more blood drawn, and I was diagnosed with CIDP-Chronic inflammatory demyelinating Polyneuropathy. It’s very rare…3-9 people out of 100,000 have it. My immune system is attacking my nerves, eating away at the myelin (covering) over the nerves. When you mentioned the bees sensation, it caught my attention!! I have that feeling in both arms and legs. The specialist told me that was part of the neuropathy. Please ask to see a neurologist. You probably don’t have what I do, but you hopefully can get some answers. May God bless you. Sharon

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