The term fibromyalgia comes from the words “fibro” which refers to connective tissues and “myalgia” which describes muscle pain. Fibromyalgia is a common disease related to the central nervous system and affects about five percent of people (1). This article reviews research data on whether CBD is helpful in the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia causes chronic fatigue, memory disorders, and pain in the locomotor and supporting organs, without the case being clearly associated with any inflammation, damage or injury. The symptoms are usually accompanied by low-quality sleep that is not restorative enough and leads to exhaustion. (1)
Older and middle-aged women are most affected by fibromyalgia. Among children and young people, it occurs only rarely (2).
Causes of Fibromyalgia
The cause of fibromyalgia is still not completely known, but it is thought to be related to an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system and a neural pain regulation disorder (1).
In addition, there are indications that fibromyalgia could be caused, at least in part, by anxiety and low mood caused by prolonged stress. This kind of repeated stress can be caused by many different reasons and it can be related to busyness, relationships, money worries, work, unemployment or, for example, traffic noise. (2)
People suffering from the disease have also been noticed to have similar changes in hormone balance as people suffering from a chronic stress state. It is still unclear whether chronic stress is directly caused by fibromyalgia or by other symptoms caused by it. For some reason, the disease most often appears only after middle age. (2)
Fibromyalgic manifestations are associated with several different factors, such as an injury, accident or infection, which can cause sensitization related to the central nervous system. At times, the local pain condition may even develop into pain sensitivity. There are usually other different diseases in the background, which makes the definition of the disease challenging. For example, the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may closely resemble the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Other common symptoms of fibromyalgia can be psychological and social problems, as well as overactive joints. (2)
Based on several studies, cannabinoid deficiency states in the internal cannabinoid system may be associated with the onset of fibromyalgia (3).
Fibromyalgia and pain points
Fibromyalgia-related pain usually occurs in certain areas, in pain points, unlike e.g. in cases related to rheumatism and osteoarthritis. Pressing on certain pain points creates very strong pain conditions that usually do not occur in a healthy person. (4)
Fibromyalgia cannot be identified with standard laboratory tests, but pain points make it easier to make a diagnosis. Even if the patient has other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, but if he does not experience pain when pressing certain pain points, it is likely that it is not fibromyalgia. Pressing on the pain point can cause a tingling, stinging or burning sensation. Everyone suffering from fibromyalgia, so-called the pain map with points is individual. Pain is therefore definitely not experienced in all 18 pain points, but according to the definition of fibromyalgia, the patient experiences pain in at least 11 pain points. Pain points are often located around large joints and in the area of muscle attachment points, areas about the size of two euros. Pain points can be found on both sides of the body. There are 10 of them on the back and eight on the front. (4)
Fibromyalgia is a disease that challenges everyday life, whose symptoms include e.g. constant muscle pain and soreness in the connective tissues, as well as a variety of psychological and neurological symptoms. In addition to these symptoms, it is common for people with fibromyalgia to sleep poorly and suffer from exhaustion, fatigue, weakness, numbness and swelling in the joints. When the body does not get the necessary rest during the night, the exhaustion continues immediately after waking up and it makes everyday life feel heavy. In particular, mental pressure may increase fatigue. Symptoms vary from case to case. (2)
The pain associated with fibromyalgia is described as cutting, burning and stabbing. Symptoms can also include headache, and pain in the urinary organs and stomach area. Based on research, in addition to mental stress and social pressures, cold, humidity and drafts can increase symptoms. Warm air and especially sauna may relieve the pain temporarily, but there is a downside, as the pain conditions may get worse after sauna. (2)
In deep sleep, growth hormone is secreted, which strengthens tissues. Without deep sleep, this growth hormone cannot be obtained, and therefore lower than normal levels of growth hormone have been observed in fibromyalgia patients. Disturbances in hormone secretion can increase the experience of various pain conditions. In studies where the subjects’ sleep has been disturbed, they have been found to have symptoms belonging to fibromyalgia (2). Deep sleep also plays an important role in getting the necessary rest and daily coping.
CBD oil and fibromyalgia
CBD and CBD oils are increasingly being used to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Lynch and Campbell (2011) and Lynch and Ware (2015) conducted two systematic reviews of the use of cannabis/cannabinoids for chronic pain, including pain caused by fibromyalgia. The studies have been published in the years 2003–2010, and in addition to them, 11 studies have been published in the years 2011–2014. Around 2,000 participants took part in all 29 tests and their duration was several weeks. 22 out of 29 studies showed a significant analgesic or pain-reducing effect, and several also reported improvements in secondary outcomes such as sleep and spasticity. The results are remarkable and the news comforting for fibromyalgia sufferers. (5)
Recent advances made it possible to isolate the active substances of cannabis. At the same time, it enables the production of cannabinoid products, without the unwanted psychoactive effect and the possibility of providing pain relief and alleviation of other symptoms related to fibromyalgia. Cannabis itself is also approved for use in the treatment of chronic pain conditions. (6)
Evidence supporting cannabis in chronic pain conditions is abundant; however, in fibromyalgia they are mostly limited. There are only a handful of randomized trials, and their objectivity has been questioned. However, many retrospective studies and patient studies point to significant relief of pain, improvement of sleep and relief of related symptoms. Evidence supporting the use of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain and especially fibromyalgia is being collected as the use of cannabis increases with current global trends. Although the current evidence is still limited, new data points to the positive effect of cannabis in the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms. 6)
Read more about pain and CBD oil .
The treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms can be made easier if the disease can be diagnosed in the early stages. When the reason behind the long-lasting symptoms is known, it is easier to focus on its treatment when additional examinations are no longer needed. (2)
The causes of the disease and the intensity of the symptoms vary in people with fibromyalgia. There is still no single and suitable form of treatment for its treatment. Psychiatric treatment is always recommended if the illness is also accompanied by depression, severe exhaustion or some other psychological symptom. (2)
Exercise is believed to strengthen the body’s own functions related to pain relief. Recommended forms of exercise are water sports, walking, cycling, skiing and dancing. Positive results have been obtained e.g. pole walking and pilates exercises. (2)
It is also possible for fibromyalgia sufferers to participate in a rehabilitation course, which is intended to encourage exercise, treatment and reduce the exhaustion associated with the disease together with groups. The treatment includes e.g. pampering the body which includes massage, baths and conversations. Sometimes the treatments also use cold therapy such as avto.
Medicines in the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms
No actual drugs have been developed to treat fibromyalgia. Medicines that improve sleep and mood are often first tried. To minimize side effects, drug treatment is recommended to start with the lowest possible dosage. Some drugs used to treat depression (such as duloxetine and milnacipran) have been found to have effects in alleviating the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Some also get help from the more traditional paracetamol, but NSAIDs can do more harm than good. In the most severe cases of pain, drugs intended for the treatment of nerve pain such as gapapentine (Gabrion) and pregabalin (Lyrica) are used. (2)
Although fibromyalgia cannot be completely cured yet, once a suitable medication is found, it can be alleviated, e.g. symptoms related to pain and fatigue significantly. Medicines are not helpful for everyone, however, and due to their harmful side effects, it is recommended to start a possible medication regimen with low dosages. Since the disease is not caused by inflammation, traditional anti-inflammatory drugs do not help it either. In addition, strong opioid-based painkillers usually only have side effects. (6)
Antidepressants, nerve pain medications, and SNRIs are often prescribed to treat fibromyalgia patients. The medication aims to reduce pain, sleep difficulties and anxiety. Sometimes different medicines are used at the same time, but despite this they do not necessarily bring the necessary relief to the symptoms. Although paracetamol is commonly used in the treatment of pain, there is no evidence that it can be used to treat fibromyalgia. (6)
10 facts about fibromyalgia
- Fibromyalgia occurs in approximately 2-8 percent of the population.
- There is no cure for the disease, but the symptoms can be alleviated or even disappear on their own.
- Causes the second most long-term pain in the musculoskeletal system.
- Chronic pain syndrome accompanied by variable pain and other symptoms.
- The pain regulation system becomes more sensitive and changes occur in the functioning of the involuntary nervous system.
- Medicines can mainly treat pain and exhaustion.
- Hereditary factors affect about half of the cases.
- Exercise, sleep quality and maintaining mental well-being are essential to the treatments.
- The disease cannot be detected in a laboratory.
- Fibromyalgia rarely occurs in children. ( 6)
Fibromyalgia and diet
There is no unequivocal evidence of the effect of diet in the treatment of fibromyalgia. The help received from nutrition is always case-specific. General recommendations for fibromyalgia are to pay particular attention to adequate intake of trace elements and vitamins such as vitamin D. (6)
Other fibromyalgic patients avoid foods such as alcohol, red meat, sugar and gluten. Abstaining from certain foods eases symptoms for some and not for others. It is important for everyone to find a diet and food rhythms that suit them. Above all, it would be good to try to avoid stress related to eating, so that the body can find an optimal balance. (6)
How to live with fibromyalgia symptoms?
How to live with fibromyalgia symptoms? Based on experience, healthy lifestyles, regular exercise, rest and a suitable diet can make living with the disease much easier. Positive experiences have also been gained from group courses, where you can talk about your own experiences and peer support is available.
More and more people are experiencing that CBD provides significant relief from fibromyalgia symptoms. So one recommended way is to try it CBD oils that you can order from the online store .
- Heikki Julkunen. 2019. Duodecim. Fibromyalgia. https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk00016. Referred on 03/28/2022
- Tom Petterson. 2021. Rheumatism Association. Fibromyalgia . https://www.reumaliitto.fi/fi/reuma-aapinen/reumataudit/fibromyalgia. Referred on 29/03/2022
- Russo, E. 2004. Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD): Can this Concept Explain Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabis in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other Treatment-Resistant Conditions? Neuroendocrinology Letters. https://www.nel.edu/userfiles/articlesnew/NEL251204R02.pdf?route=pdf_/25_12/NEL251204R02_Russo_.pdf
- Fibromyalgiakipu.fi. Fibromyalgia pain points .
https://fibromyalgiakipu.fi/fibromyalgia-kipupisteet/. Referred on 10/05/2022
- Sonja Vučković et al. Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules. Front Pharmacol. 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6277878/. Referred on 10/05/2022.
- Amnon A. Berger et al. ScienceDirect. 2020. Cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of fibromyalgia. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1521689620300781?via%3Dihub. Referred on 10/05/2022
- Henna Laitio. 2016. Rheumatism Association. In the treatment of fibromyalgia pain syndrome, drug-free treatment methods are emphasized. https://www.reumaliitto.fi/fi/fibromyalgia-kipuoireyhtyman-hoidossa-korostuvat-laakkeettomat-hoitokeinot. Referred on 29/03/2022