Fibromyalgia: Is insulin resistance ‘the missing link?’

Researchers have noticed that a drug that doctors commonly use to treat insulin resistance can also address the pain of fibromyalgia, which has provided them with a new clue about this chronic condition.

woman feeling in pain
Researchers have managed to diminish fibromyalgia-related pain using a drug for insulin resistance.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes abnormal pain all over the body, increased sensitivity to pain, and heightened feelings of fatigue, among other symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fibromyalgia affects 4 million peopleTrusted Source in the United States alone, which equates to about 2% of the population. However, researchers still have no idea what causes this widespread condition.

Recently though, researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston made an intriguing find.

In collaboration with colleagues from other institutions, the researchers identified a connection between fibromyalgia and insulin resistance. They were also able to treat fibromyalgia-related pain by using a drug that doctors commonly prescribe to help the body regulate blood sugar levels.

“Earlier studies discovered that insulin resistance causes dysfunction within the brain’s small blood vessels. Since this issue is also present in fibromyalgia, we investigated whether insulin resistance is the missing link in this disorder.”

First author Dr. Miguel Pappolla

“We showed that most — if not all — patients with fibromyalgia can be identified by their A1c levels, which reflects average blood sugar levels over the past 2 to 3 months,” Dr. Pappolla adds.

The A1c test is a blood test that allows doctors to measure a person’s blood sugar levels by looking at “hemoglobin A1c,” a blood cell protein that binds to the simple sugar glucose. Doctors use this test to diagnose prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

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