New blood test for fibromyalgia offers hope to millions of people with chronic pain

Researchers at Ohio State University have shown that blood tests can reliably detect fibromyalgia, a disease that is often misdiagnosed because of its general symptoms and similar to a number of other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus. This good news was relayed by our fellow members of The Sun.

Published in the  Journal of Biological Chemistry , this study describes the success of fibromyalgia biomarker research and the distinction between the disease and other related conditions. The study also describes the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia as “a challenge because of the lack of reliable biomarkers.”

New blood test for fibromyalgia offers hope to millions of people with chronic pain

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic or long-term condition that causes musculoskeletal pain. Symptoms include increased sensitivity to pain, fatigue, stiff muscles, disturbed sleep, irritable bowel syndrome,  and cognitive problems such as memory and concentration problems. Fibromyalgia is a very complicated disease, which is not completely cured (risk of relapse); the treatment consists of medication, group therapy and lifestyle changes to relieve and manage symptoms.

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based on a wide range of symptoms reported by the patients themselves. It also sometimes includes a physical assessment of the patient’s pain by applying gentle pressure to 18 specific pain points where pain is often felt. And as Francetvinfo points out  ,  when 11 of these 18 points are painful; the diagnosis falls: it is about fibromyalgia. However, diagnostic tools are often used to exclude other diseases with symptoms similar to fibromyalgia.

A study, a hope

Conducted by Ohio State University, the goal of  the study  was to develop a rapid method based on biomarkers to diagnose fibromyalgia using vibrational spectroscopy ( a chemical analysis of molecular composition)  to differentiate fibromyalgia patients those with other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or   systemic lupus erythematosus. The research also aimed at identifying the metabolites (intermediate or metabolic organic compounds) associated with these differences.

The researchers discovered clear and reproducible metabolic patterns in the blood of dozens of patients with fibromyalgia. This could lead to better, more accurate and, above all, personalized treatment. Over time, a particular protein, acid or combination of molecules associated with fibromyalgia could be identified. In addition, metabolic fingerprints could even assess the severity of the disease in each patient.

A faster future diagnosis

With patients who sometimes wait an average of five years between symptom development and final diagnosis, a quick and accurate diagnosis is absolutely necessary and has a number of obvious benefits for them and for physicians. Patients can rest assured that their symptoms are real and unimaginable, and doctors can finally establish appropriate and effective treatment plans.

Undiagnosed patients often receive   strong, addictive opioid analgesics . Kevin Hackshaw, lead author of the study, says, “In chronic pain clinics, about 40% of opioid patients meet the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia. This disease is often worsened with these drugs and the condition of the patients certainly does not improve. “

Based on the results of the study, Hackshaw aims to conduct larger-scale clinical trials to determine whether the results of this study can be replicated reliably.

Luis Rodriguez-Saona is an expert in the test methods used in the study, he said: “These first results are remarkable. If we can help speed up the diagnosis in these patients, their treatment will be better and they will probably have better prospects. There is nothing worse than being in doubt or not knowing what illness you have. “

The study concludes that vibrational spectroscopy can be a reliable diagnostic test to differentiate fibromyalgia from other conditions. Hackshaw hopes that a test available for extended clinical use will be available within five years.


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