Fibromyalgia May Be Explained By Newly Discovered Sensory System In The Skin

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A newly discovered sensory system hidden in a network located throughout our blood vessels and sweat glands, separate from the usual nerves that gives us the ability to touch and feel, may explain difficult to treat pain conditions like Fibromyalgia.

Researchers at Albany Medical College, the University of Liverpool and Cambridge University discovered the presence of sensory nerve endings on the small blood vessels and sweat glands embedded in the skin. These glands contribute to the regulation of blood flow and sweating. As a result, they were dismissed as contributing to conscious sensation.

Dr. Bowsher and his team were examining two unique patients with congenital insensitivity to pain when they made the discovery. These patients did not have the usual nerve endings associated to skin sensation. However, they do have adequate sensation to what is warm, cold, someone touching them, and what is rough and smooth.

The discovery of this network of sensory system reveals that there is a secondary sensory feedback system for conscious tactile information. Problems with these nerve endings could be the cause behind difficult to treat pain conditions such as migraine headaches and fibromyalgia.



1. Bowsher et al. Absence of pain with hyperhidrosis: A new syndrome where vascular afferents may mediate cutaneous sensation. Pain, 2009; 147 (1-3): 287 DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2009.09.007