Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is an extremely difficult condition to treat, partially because so little is known about its causes. There are several conditions linked to fibromyalgia, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and chronic pain. Similar to myalgic encephalomyelitis, some hypothesise that fibromyalgia the is developed as a response to a previous viral or bacterial infection that has caused long-term inflammatory responses. There are several other aspects to fibromyalgia, including improper processing of pain signals by the central nervous system (CNS), chronic pain, extreme sensitivity to pressure, light & temperature, gluten intolerance, numbness & tingling, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraine, restless leg syndrome (RLS) and bladder problems. Conditions that present themselves similarly to fibromyalgia are polymyalgia rheumatica, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and thyroid disease.

Between 2% and 8% of the United States’ population are believed to suffer from fibromyalgia. Around 10 million people in the US are affected by fibromyalgia. Both environmental and genetic factors are thought to cause fibromyalgia. Around 10 million people in the US are affected by fibromyalgia. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as duloxetine and milnacipran and the CNS depressant pregabalin (Lyrica) are most commonly prescribed for those suffering from fibromyalgia. Other than these medications, treatment programmes often include plenty of rest, exercise and diet changes, as so little is understood in how to treat fibromyalgia effectively. Sometimes, opioids are prescribed for those in extreme pain. However, they have little efficacy when it comes to fibromyalgia, and could end up adding to the pain rather than getting rid of it, in the form of addiction.

Cannabis could well help for some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, especially chronic pain and insomnia. However, the evidence is mixed, and whilst some symptoms can be effectively treated, not all of them necessarily are. Yet, when looking at the sorts of symptoms associated with fibromyalgia (e.g. IBS, migraines, restless legs), there seems to be at least average-if-not-strong evidence that cannabis could help with them. This suggests that fibromyalgia may be associated with a disrupted endocannabinoid system in some, but have other factors in its development in others.

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