Does Inflammation in the Brain Causes Fibromyalgia? See what PET Scan Tells us

A chronic illness, fibromyalgia has affected about 2 to 4 percent world population. It is a well-recognized disease with severe muscle pain to the patients. A patient affected with this disease faced severe body and muscle pains on a regular basis. Besides that, he/she also faces trouble concentrating on things (fibro fog), poor sleep quality, memory loss, significant fatigue, and tenderness. All these symptoms make the patient’s life miserable. Its symptoms and their seriousness vary from patient to patient. As some patients might have the symptom of memory loss and some will not.

What is Brain Inflammation?

Brain inflammation, also known as neuroinflammation. Inflammation is a localized body response to infection, disease, or injury. Brain inflammation is a particular inflammation of a person’s nervous system. It is involved in various brain diseases, for example, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, etc.

In neuroinflammation, brains immune cells known as glial cells and astrocytes both become activated. And it released numerous inflammatory mediators. Thus, with the passage of time, it can become a barrier between blood and brain. It automatically worsens brain inflammation and can damage the neural system permanently.

PET Research and Results

PET research was conducted by the team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in collaboration with Sweden’s Karolinska Institute team.  PET stands for positron emission tomography. According to the team, 58 patients participated in this study. They belonged to Sweden, Boston, and Stockholm. Among them, 27 were healthy people while 31 were the fibromyalgia patients.

They used the PET (positron emission tomography) an advanced imaging test as a tool in their research. This advanced technology made this test result oriented. And because of this technique, it is called PET research.

With this research, it was confirmed that fibromyalgia patients have widespread inflammation in their brains. It is indicated that inflammation in the brain causes fibromyalgia. This fruitful study was first published in the well-known journal “Brain, Behavior and Immunity”.

According to the experts, it is probably an ailment of the central nervous system. And through certain medicines and changes in the patient’s routine will help to deal with this illness. During this research, every individual of the sample group went through the PET scans. And the scans showed inflammation in the brain of the fibromyalgia patients. While the other group’s people’s brains were free from this inflammation.

The Reason Behind Inflammation in Brain

According to the PET, research results showed that the reason behind the inflammation in the brain is active glial cells. The glial cells are immune cells of the central nervous system. The activation of these cells raised the inflammation of the brain. It was revealed the first time in this study that these cells are playing a role in causing fibromyalgia.

The findings identified that in the fibromyalgia patients glial cells are activated in a large portion of the cerebral cortex. Along with this, the degree of activation had a relationship with the fatigue degree expressed by the fibromyalgia patients. With PET research, we know the cause. But we still don’t know what is triggering this cell’s activation.

Benefits of PET Research

The results of this study will provide relief to the patients of fibromyalgia. As now new therapies will be introduced to minimize brain inflammation. And not only minimizing it but also to reduce its complications.

The brain of the fibromyalgia patients has an impaired ability to diminish pain signals. Due to this patients feel immense pain from the things that are normally painless. It causes them great discomfort. As now we have the reason, the medicines will be designed to minimize the inflammation of the brain.

It will also break the stigma among the people about fibromyalgia. As now patients know that there are psychological changes that accord in this disease. So, by changing or modifying their daily routine along with medicines they can make their condition better.

Now doctors are also focusing on the treatments through medication and most importantly lifestyle. The patients of fibromyalgia are now encouraged to do exercise on a daily basis for at least 30 minutes. They are also recommended to do yoga or any stress relief activity. All these activities will help the patient to control the inflammation of the brain.


All the recent studies and specifically the PET research verified that inflammation in the brain is causing fibromyalgia. Although, still the basic reason behind this disease is not known. But the activation of immune cells of the brain causes inflammation of the brain. And it is playing a vital role in causing fibromyalgia.

With the results of this research now we can provide comfort and relief to the patients. As now doctors are focusing on such treating methods that will help to control this inflammation. And it will automatically decrease the symptoms and complications of this disease.

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