Is Fibromyalgia Hereditary Disease?
Like other rheumatic diseases, fibromyalgia could be the result of a genetic tendency that's passed from mother to daughter. Some researchers believe that a person's genes may regulate the way his or her body processes painful stimuli. These scientists theorize that people with fibromyalgia may have a gene or genes that cause them to react intensely to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful. Several genes have been found to occur more often in people with fibromyalgia.
It's thought that when a person with this genetic tendency is exposed to certain emotional or physical stressors -- such as a traumatic crisis or a serious illness -- there is a change in the body's response to stress. This change can result in a higher sensitivity of the entire body to pain.
Fibromyalgia isn't passed directly from parents to children, but the disorder does appear to cluster within families. The odds of developing fibromyalgia are several times higher in the immediate families of people with fibromyalgia than in families in which no one has fibromyalgia. In fact, studies of DNA from family members of people with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes have turned up a number of genes that could help explain why these disorders seem to run in families.
Each of these genes plays a role in your nervous system's response to pain. Some of the same genes are also associated with depression and anxiety, which may be the reason why certain antidepressant medications help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms.
What Are Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia?
Risk factors are distinct characteristics researchers have identified that may increase your chance of getting a certain illness. While researchers have identified some common risk factors for fibromyalgia, there are still many people with the disease who have none of these traits. Also, some women have fibromyalgia with certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or other autoimmune diseases. But others have fibromyalgia without any underlying disease.
Possible risk factors for fibromyalgia include:
- Gender (usually female)
- Genetic disposition (may be inherited)
- Menopause (loss of estrogen)
- Poor physical conditioning
- Trauma to the brain or spinal cord (after an injury, accident, illness, or emotional stress)
Fibromyalgia in Children
Yet when kids complain of vague symptoms, like fatigue, achiness, and difficulty sleeping, they could be experiencing any one of a number of common illnesses. One condition that's easy to overlook in children and teens is fibromyalgia, which causes pain in the muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints. Fibromyalgia can be hard to spot in children because it's much more common in adults. Most of the time fibromyalgia affects women over age 18. Even so, between 1 % and 7 % of children are thought to have fibromyalgia or similar conditions.
Fibromyalgia is part of a group of conditions collectively known as musculoskeletal pain syndrome (MSPS). In children, fibromyalgia is called juvenile primary fibromyalgia syndrome (JPFS). If a child also has arthritis or another disease related to the fibromyalgia, it's called juvenile secondary fibromyalgia syndrome.
Here's how to spot the symptoms of fibromyalgia in teens and children, and what to do if you suspect your child has it.
Fibromyalgia in Teens and Children: What Causes It?
No one really knows what causes fibromyalgia. The condition tends to run in families, although no gene has been discovered yet. Researchers have linked fibromyalgia to a number of other health conditions, including immune, endocrine, psychological, and biochemical problems.
Just as fibromyalgia in adults is more likely to affect women, child and teen fibromyalgia occurs more often in girls than in boys. Most girls with the condition are diagnosed between ages 13 and 15.