Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes chronic pain throughout the body. Many experts believe fibromyalgia causes the brain to sense higher pain levels, but the exact cause is unknown. It may also cause:
There’s currently no cure, but treatment options focus primarily on pain management to reduce symptoms.
Some believe fibromyalgia could be classified as an autoimmune disease because many of the symptoms overlap with those of autoimmune disorders. But without sufficient evidence showing that fibromyalgia produces autoantibodies or causes harm to surrounding tissues, it’s difficult to prove this claim.
Discovering the cause of fibromyalgia might allow doctors to find improved preventive measures and better treatment options focused on alleviating pain symptoms. Read on to learn more.
In autoimmune disorders, the body begins to attack itself as the immune system mistakenly identifies healthy cells as dangerous or harmful bacteria or viruses. In response, your body makes autoantibodies that destroy healthy cells. The attack causes damage to tissues and often inflammation at the affected site.
Fibromyalgia doesn’t qualify as an autoimmune disorder because it doesn’t cause inflammation. There also isn’t any sufficient evidence indicating fibromyalgia causes damage to bodily tissues.
Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar or associated with other conditions, including some autoimmune disorders. In many cases, fibromyalgia can occur simultaneously with autoimmune disorders.
Common conditions associated with fibromyalgia pain include:
Some autoimmune disorders and fibromyalgia have similar symptoms and characteristics. It’s not uncommon to have fibromyalgia pain and an autoimmune disease at the same time. This can make it confusing when considering if fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease.
One animal study published in 2021 may indicate a possible autoimmune origin, but the evidence from just this study isn’t enough to prove this connection.
There is, however, strong data linking small nerve fiber neuropathy and Sjögren’s disease. This condition causes painful damage to your nerves. But more research is needed to accurately link both fibromyalgia and small nerve fiber neuropathy.
Though research suggests some relationship with autoimmunity, there’s not enough evidence to classify fibromyalgia as an autoimmune disorder.
Though it has similar characteristics and symptoms, fibromyalgia isn’t currently classified as an autoimmune disorder. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t a real condition.
If you have questions about fibromyalgia or want to stay up to date on the latest research, contact your doctor. Following the latest updates can help you find more ways to cope with your symptoms.