24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Health Tip: Recognizing a Staph InfectionIs Dairy Fat Different?CDC Recommends Catch-Up HPV Vaccination for Young AdultsHow to Relieve Dry, Irritated EyesPretomanid Approved for Treatment of Drug-Resistant TBAHA News: Tiring Easily May Warn of Future Heart TroubleAmerica's Obesity Epidemic May Mean Some Cancers Are Striking SoonerHeavy Smog as Bad as Pack-a-Day Smoking for LungsConcussed NFL Players Sidelined for Much Longer NowadaysHormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer Might Harm the Heart: StudyObesity and 'Spare Tire' Raise Hispanics' Odds for Early DeathAHA News: Protein Made During Long Workouts May Warn of Heart ProblemsHow to Help Your Heart Weather Extreme HeatHealth Threats Don't End for Some Sepsis SurvivorsHeat Waves Brought by Climate Change Could Prove Deadly for Kidney PatientsHealth Tip: Avoiding AnemiaAre You Still Putting Off Colon Cancer Screening?Tips for Preventing DiverticulitisFDA Reports More Seizures Among VapersKids Getting Too Many Opioids After TonsillectomyCan Major Surgeries Cause a Long-Term 'Brain Drain'?How Much Coffee Is Too Much for Migraine Sufferers?Steady Stream of Lesser Head Hits in Football Can Still Damage BrainDon't Sweat It: Hyperhydrosis Can Be TreatedFast-Food Joints on Your Way to Work? Your Waistline May WidenAdults Need Vaccines, TooHealth Tip: Managing Arthritis of the Hands'Selfies' Might Someday Track Your Blood PressureIn Heat Waves, Fans May Do More Harm Than GoodSmoking Creates Long-Lasting Risk for Clogged Leg ArteriesFootball Head Trauma Linked Again to Long-Term Brain DamageDrug Approved to Treat Tenosynovial Giant Cell TumorRugby-Style Tackling Might Make Football SaferFor Kids With Asthma, Allergies, New School Year Can Bring Flare-UpsFrailty Not a Normal Part of AgingAHA News: Hurricane Checklist: Batteries, Bottled Water – And A Plan for Heart CareDangerous Sesame Allergy Affects Many AmericansScorching Pavement Sends Some to the ER With BurnsHealth Tip: Living With Hypoglycemia3-D Printers Might Someday Make Replacement HeartsCDC Renews Pledge to Fight Ebola Outbreak in AfricaAnemia Linked to Higher Odds for Dementia in SeniorsDrug Duo May Be an Advance Against a Common LeukemiaAHA News: Chemical Widely Used in Medical Plastic Alters Heart Function in Lab TestsHigh Blood Pressure Much More Deadly for the PoorHealth Tip: Understanding PrediabetesMild Head Injury Can Impair Your Sense of SmellMiddle Age Now a High-Risk Time for Bad FallsSmoking May Interfere With 'Embolization' Lung TreatmentHeartburn Drugs Might Bring Allergy Woes
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Diabetes

Scientists Spot Unexpected Player in Fibromyalgia

HealthDay News
by By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: May 16th 2019

new article illustration

THURSDAY, May 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Fibromyalgia is a mysterious and misunderstood illness, but researchers may have uncovered at least one key to the disease's origin: insulin resistance.

The new research compared a small group of people with fibromyalgia to two groups of healthy people and noted that a long-term measure of blood sugar levels was higher in the people with fibromyalgia. Insulin resistance develops when the body starts to struggle with breaking down sugar.

To see if treating those higher blood sugar levels might help, the researchers gave people who had blood sugar levels in the pre-diabetic range or higher a diabetes medication called metformin. People taking metformin reported significantly lower pain scores, according to the study.

"We combined metformin with standard drugs used for fibromyalgia and saw a much greater degree of pain relief," said study author Dr. Miguel Pappolla. He is a professor of neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

In fact, Pappolla said, the additional pain relief was so significant that the researchers actually called patients on different days to re-check their pain scores.

Because this is a preliminary finding, the researchers aren't sure how insulin resistance might contribute to fibromyalgia or how metformin might reduce pain. "Metformin may have some analgesic [pain-relieving] activity on its own," Pappolla said.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain, fatigue, sleep problems and distress, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even celebrities aren't spared from this painful condition -- Lady Gaga reportedly had to cancel concerts on her tour due to pain from fibromyalgia.

Though the cause of the disorder isn't clear, it appears that people with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive to pain than other people -- what the CDC calls abnormal pain processing.

Pappolla said that studies have shown differences in the brain between people with fibromyalgia and those without, such as areas with a lower blood flow than expected. The researchers noted that similar problems have been seen in people with diabetes.

The study included 23 people with fibromyalgia. The researchers compared their hemoglobin A1c levels to large groups of healthy people from two other studies. Hemoglobin A1c is a simple blood test that measures what someone's blood sugar levels were during the past two or three months. A level of 5.7% to 6.4% is considered pre-diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. A level of 6.5% or higher means a person has diabetes.

Only six of those with fibromyalgia had normal blood sugar levels. Sixteen had levels considered pre-diabetes and one met the criteria for diabetes.

When the researchers compared the average blood sugar levels of the fibromyalgia group to healthy age-matched people in the other studies, they saw that the blood sugar levels were higher in the people with fibromyalgia, suggesting insulin resistance.

The findings were published online recently in the journal PLOS ONE.

Dr. Edward Rubin, an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, said, "It's interesting that there's a possible connection between fibromyalgia and blood sugar. We've been attacking the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but we don't have a good understanding of the root cause of fibromyalgia."

Rubin, who wasn't involved in the study, said there may be enough evidence here to try metformin along with other medications used for fibromyalgia for people whose blood sugar levels fall outside of the normal range, to see if they have a positive response.

Dr. Bharat Kumar, from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, said this study shows people with the disease that there is hope.

"People with fibromyalgia are often told [falsely] that they have a disease that simply cannot be managed. This article shows that it's not true. Although it's unclear if metformin will work for every person suffering from fibromyalgia, there is active research into finding solutions for this frustrating and overlooked condition," he said.

Kumar said it's biologically plausible that insulin could have an effect on pain. "We know that other hormone abnormalities can cause fibromyalgia-like symptoms, so [this finding] is not too surprising," he added.

Still, he said, he didn't expect that metformin would be a "silver bullet" for all fibromyalgia pain. He said there are likely a number of causes of the disease.

More information

Learn more about fibromyalgia from the American College of Rheumatology.