We’ve heard about everything from the role of gut bacteria in inflammation to their impact on the development of certain diseases and, more recently, a possible new link to chronic pain like fibromyalgia.

Intestinal bacteria linked to fibromyalgia in a study

A new study published in the journal  Pain  found that patients with fibromyalgia , a condition often characterized by chronic pain, had similar gut microbiome compositions (abundance or absence of 19 species of bacteria) compared to those without the disease.

Fibromyalgia is a disease that currently has no cure and includes symptoms such as chronic pain, fatigue, and cognitive decline. The researchers found that these symptoms, in particular, were most closely related to the modeled changes they saw in the microbiome of fibromyalgia patients.

Number of intestinal bacteria present or absent in the intestine is related to chronic pain

In the sample size, which included patients with and without fibromyalgia, they found a correlation between the level of intensity of the symptoms of the disease and the number of bacteria present or absent in the intestine. The study noted that this connection had not been previously recorded.

More research is needed to see if these changes in gut bacteria are merely hallmarks of the disease or could be contributing to its development.

This diagnosis could bring better treatments and results in chronic pain

At the moment, it is difficult to diagnose fibromyalgia as the symptoms are typical of many other conditions. The possibility that gut bacteria are a cause of the disease can mean an earlier diagnosis and better treatment results.

“As pain physicians, we are frustrated by our inability to help, and this frustration is a good motivator for research. This is the first evidence, at least in humans, that the microbiome could have an effect on diffuse pain , and we really need new ways of looking at chronic pain, ”said Yoram Shir, lead author of the article and director of the Unit for Pain Management Alan Edwards at the McGill University Health Center , in a statement.

The fibromyalgia is just one of the many diseases that cause chronic pain . The CDC estimates that about 20% of adults in the US alone live with chronic pain and note that it can contribute to a variety of other physical and mental health problems.

For professionals, it can be challenging to diagnose chronic pain, as it is difficult to measure the amount of pain the patient feels.

This makes it essential to better understand the ways to prevent, diagnose and cure chronic pain. For now, the scientific community shows interest in continuing to investigate the connection between the gut microbiome and chronic pain and we hope this is an indication of more future research.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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