Article: Fibromyalgia and Chest Pain: What Does Fibromyalgia Chest Pain Feel Like? [New Life Outlook]

“The truth is, fibromyalgia pain can sometimes extend to the chest. This pain feels like an intense stabbing sensation primarily in the center of the chest, around the breastbone and rib cage which is precisely where my symptoms were occurring.

“The pain did mimic a heart attack to some degree and was both painful and frightening. Discomfort can vary depending on how active you are. During this time of my chest pain flare-up, I had been pushing myself to do a difficult level of yard work during the hot summer which worsened my pain and symptoms.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia chest pain include:

  • Feelings of intense sharpness or stabbing
  • Inflamed or burning sensation
  • Mild ache or chronic chest ache
  • Knotted muscles
  • Tightness in the chest

“This restrictive sensation can affect the respiratory system, making it difficult to breathe and causing shortness of breath. This breathing problem is something that I had not noticed in all these years of living with fibromyalgia until the last year, or so which leads me to believe that conditions can worsen over time.”

Read Starla Rich’s full article at New Life Outlook: Fibromyalgia Chest Pain: What Does Fibromyalgia Chest Pain Feel Like?

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Article: Why the Sexes Don’t Feel Pain the Same Way [Nature]

“To better understand why male and female mice dealt with pain so differently, Sorge and Mogil turned to a pain source that affects all mice. They injured the animals’ sciatic nerves, which run from the lower back down each leg. This led to a form of chronic pain that happens when the body’s pain-detecting system is damaged or malfunctioning. It caused both male and female mice to become extra sensitive to touch.

“Yet even in this case, there were differences. Microglia seemed to have a prominent role in the pain of males, but not in that of female mice2. Sorge and a team of collaborators from three institutions found that, no matter how they blocked microglia, this eliminated the pain hypersensitivity in males alone.

“It’s not that females were immune to pain. They were just as bothered by nerve injury as the males were, but they weren’t using microglia to become hypersensitive to touch. Mogil and Sorge wondered whether another immune component, called a T cell, was behind the chronic pain in females. These cells have a known role in pain sensitization in mice.

“Sorge tried the same nerve injury in female mice lacking T cells. They still became hypersensitive to the fine hairs, but the mechanism now seemed to occur through microglia. In females lacking T cells, blocking the activity of microglia prevented this pain response, just as it did in males. And when the researchers transferred T cells back to female mice that were lacking them, the animals stopped using microglia in nerve-injury pain (see ‘Two routes to pain’).”

Read Amber Dance’s full article at Nature: Why the Sexes Don’t Feel Pain the Same Way

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Article: When is Physical Pain Emotional Pain? [NoiJam]

“When treating an individual with CRPS [Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome] it may be useful for the PT [physical therapist] to be aware that sometimes it occurs with PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder].  In both instances the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is over-stimulated.  Our ANS connects our central nervous system, (CNS), to our organ, respiratory, and cardiac systems.  It is not under conscious control; however activities like meditation can have an effect on it.  Its two components, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) keep our life-sustaining body systems in balance (homeostasis).

“When we experience danger the SNS triggers increased heart and respiratory rates, raises blood pressure, and prepares us for fight or flight.  The PNS responds when we have no hope for escape and we freeze.  When we feel that the danger has passed, it returns to its usual function of reducing heart and respiratory rates and restoring balance to our systems.  The ANS is designed to be resilient in response to external stimuli.  But danger that continues over time can cause the SNS to remain in hyper-arousal which can cause CRPS, PTSD, and many other serious health problems.

“Emotional pain and physical pain are processed similarly.[i]  CRPS and PTSD manifest on a continuum similar to blood pressure which can go up with stress, but can also go down with meditation, or when the stress is relieved.  The nature of life is change, so the more appropriately the ANS ebbs and flows in relation to the environment, the more coincident body systems are with real-world reality.  A defining factor of CRPS is pain greater than would be expected.   PTSD is a complex state that includes fear and the experience of danger greater than the present reality.  For both, the exaggerated experience of danger may be triggered by a precipitating event.”

Read Deborah Brandt’s full article regarding her personal experience with pain, CRPS, PTSD, and her professional interest in the autonomic nervous system at NoiJam: When is Physical Pain Emotional Pain

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Article: Just the Two of Us: Holding Hands Can Ease Pain, Sync Brainwaves [CU Bolder Today]

“We have developed a lot of ways to communicate in the modern world and we have fewer physical interactions,” said lead author Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at CU Boulder. “This paper illustrates the power and importance of human touch.” 

“The study is the latest in a growing body of research exploring a phenomenon known as “interpersonal synchronization,” in which people physiologically mirror the people they are with. It is the first to look at brain wave synchronization in the context of pain, and offers new insight into the role brain-to-brain coupling may play in touch-induced analgesia, or healing touch.

“Goldstein came up with the experiment after, during the delivery of his daughter, he discovered that when he held his wife’s hand, it eased her pain.

“I wanted to test it out in the lab: Can one really decrease pain with touch, and if so, how?”

Read Lisa Marshall’s full article at CU Boulder Today: Just the Two of Us: Holding Hands Can Ease Pain, Sync Brainwaves

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Article: 100 Million Americans Have Chronic Pain. Very Few Use One of the Best Tools to Treat it. [Vox]

“After weaning himself off the opioid Vicodin and feeling like he had exhausted every medical option, Golson turned to a book that described how pain could be purely psychological in origin. That ultimately took a pain psychologist, a therapist who specializes in pain — not a physician — to treat the true source: his fearful thoughts. Realizing that psychological therapy could help “was one of the most profoundly surprising experiences of my life,” Golson says. No doctor he ever saw “even hinted my pain might be psychogenic,” meaning pain that’s psychological in origin.

“Golson was lucky; few chronic pain patients ever get the chance to understand the psychological dimensions of their pain or try psychological therapies.

“There are 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain, and an unknown number of them are like Golson, with back pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia symptoms, or other forms of pain that have no diagnosed physical cause.

“It’s not that their pain is “in their heads.” The truth is much more nuanced: All pain can have both physical and psychological components. But the psychological component is often dismissed or never acknowledged.

“Big pharma’s aggressive marketing of pills and the minimal training doctors get in pain medicine mean that for too long, the go-to treatment for many forms of chronic pain has been opioids. Yet opioids have proven to be not only largely ineffective for treating most chronic pain but also highly addictive and risky.

“Cognitive behavioral therapy, meanwhile, shows meaningful benefits on chronic pain — both for psychogenic pain, and for pain with a physical cause — according to systematic reviews of the research. There’s also promising research around mindfulness-based stress reduction and therapies inspired by it.

“Yet pain psychologists are hard to find and hard to pay for, and most patients don’t even know they exist. “At the moment, [these therapies] tend to be seen as a route of no hope for the hopeless, for people who have gone through everything else,” says Amanda Williams, a psychological researcher who conducted one of the reviews of studies on the effectiveness of psychological therapy for pain.

“The question, then, is how we shift our understanding of pain so that psychology is the opposite of a last resort.”

Read Brian Resnick’s full article on Vox: 100 Million Americans Have Chronic Pain. Very Few Use One of the Best Tools to Treat it.

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Article: Joint Pain, From the Gut [The Atlantic]

“A study published in 2013 by Jose Scher, a rheumatologist at New York University, found that people with rheumatoid arthritis were much more likely to have a bug called Prevotella copri in their intestines than people that did not have the disease. In another study published in October, Scher found that patients with psoriatic arthritis, another kind of autoimmune joint disease, had significantly lower levels of other types of intestinal bacteria.

“This work is part of a growing effort by researchers around the world to understand how the microbiome—the mass of microbes that live in the gastrointestinal tract—affects our overall health. The gut contains up to a thousand different bacteria species, which together weigh between one and three pounds. This mass contains trillions of cells, more than the number of cells that make up our own bodies. Over the past several years, scientists have compiled a growing collection of evidence that many of these bugs may have a major effect on our well-being, with some triggering chronic, non-infectious ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, and others protecting against such diseases.”

Read David Kohn’s full article at The Atlantic: Joint Pain, From the Gut

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Article: Possible Culprit of Fibromyalgia Found: Microglial Activation [Technology Networks]

“A study by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers – collaborating with a team at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden – has documented for the first time widespread inflammation in the brains of patients with the poorly understood condition called fibromyalgia. Their report has been published online in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

“We don’t have good treatment options for fibromyalgia, so identifying a potential treatment target could lead to the development of innovative, more effective therapies,” says Marco Loggia, PhD, of the MGH-based Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, co-senior author of the report.

“And finding objective neurochemical changes in the brains of patients with fibromyalgia should help reduce the persistent stigma that many patients face, often being told their symptoms are imaginary and there’s nothing really wrong with them.”

“Characterized by symptoms including chronic widespread pain, sleep problems, fatigue, and problems with thinking and memory, fibromyalgia affects around 4 million adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Previous research from the Karolinska group led by Eva Kosek, MD, PhD, co-senior author of the current study, suggested a potential role for neuroinflammation in the condition – including elevated levels of inflammatory proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid – but no previous study has directly visualized neuroinflammation in fibromyalgia patients.”

Read the rest of the article Technology News republished from Boston General Hospital: Possible Culprit of Fibromyalgia Found: Microglial Activation

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Article: Microglia Transmit Pain to the Brain During Stress [Medical Xpress]

From For many years the function of microglia was unclear. However, today it is known that these cells mediate immune responses in the central nervous system by acting as macrophages, clearing cellular debris and dead neurons from nervous tissue through the process of phagocytosis (cell eating). []

“John Sheridan and colleagues identified an inflammatory environment in the spinal cord caused by repeated exposure to an aggressive mouse—an established model of psychosocial stress—that accompanied lower pain thresholds observed in the stressed mice.

“Stress increased expression of inflammatory genes and activation of microglia in spinal cord regions involved in pain processing. Eliminating microglia from the spinal cord prevented these effects.

“These findings suggest a new cellular target for alleviating stress-induced pain.”

You can read this summary by Society for Neuroscience on Medical Xpress: Microglia Transmit Pain to the Brain During Stress

Their citation: Microglia Promote Increased Pain Behavior through Enhanced Inflammation in the Spinal Cord During Repeated Social Defeat Stress, JNeurosci (2018). DOI: … EUROSCI.2785-18.2018

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