Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, and the Gut Microbiome

Researchers have found an association between the chronic pain of fibromyalgia and alterations in the gut microbiome. Fibromyalgia is a condition which affects 2-4 percent of the population and has no known pharmaceutical cure. 

Symptoms of fibromyalgia

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive issues
  • Impaired sleep and cognitive difficulties
  • Widespread chronic pain

The presence of widespread chronic pain most definitively and significantly characterizes fibromyalgia.

Scientists have now shown that there are alterations of the bacterial populations in the gastrointestinal tracts of individuals with fibromyalgia. At least 20 different species of bacteria were found in either greater or lesser quantities in the gut microbiomes of people who have fibromyalgia than in the healthy control group.

The greater presence or absence of specific species of bacteria

Researchers also confirmed that the changes they saw in the gut bacteria populations of people with fibromyalgia were not caused by other factors known to affect the microbiome, such as: 

  • Medications
  • Diet
  • Age
  • Physical activity

Fibromyalgia and its symptoms contribute more than any of these other factors to the variations seen in the gut microbiomes of those with the condition. Additionally, it was noted that the severity of a patient’s symptoms was directly associated with a greater presence or a more noticeable absence of specific bacteria.

Bacterial populations as markers of the disease

It is not entirely clear whether or not the changes in gut microbiome seen in fibromyalgia patients are merely markers of the condition or play a role in causing it. Because fibromyalgia involves numerous symptoms, research will explore whether or not there are similar changes in the gut microbiome in other conditions which include chronic pain, such as headaches, low back pain, and neuropathic pain.

Researchers will also investigate whether or not bacteria cause pain and fibromyalgia to develop, and if their presence could help in diagnosis and finding a cure.

Next steps towards finding fibromyalgia relief

Fibromyalgia has proved difficult to diagnose. However, this may be about to change. By identifying 19 species that were either increased or decreased in patients with fibromyalgia, researchers were able to make a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The diagnosis was based only on the composition of the gut microbiome, with an accuracy rate of 87 percent. This evidence that the microbiome could affect diffuse pain in humans may lead to new ways to look at chronic pain.

Next steps will explore whether changes in bacteria play a role in the development of fibromyalgia. Once the relationship between chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and the gut microbiome is fully understood, groundbreaking new treatments may be possible.

Get help from an alternative medicine doctor

Alternative medicine doctors understand the significance a healthy gut microbiome has on not just fibromyalgia and chronic pain, but in many other conditions as well. Since the toxic environment in today’s world can contribute to the disruption of a healthy microbiome, steps to support the body and the gut microbes can be essential to maintaining optimal health. 

For more information on how to keep your gut microbiome healthy and how to minimize fibromyalgia’s chronic pain, schedule a visit with an alternative medicine doctor to discuss how medical nutrition in Silver Spring, MD, like from Atlantis Medical Wellness Center, can help.