Imbalance in emotion regulation & fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is one of the conditions we can look as a part of a broader group of symptoms that are considered central sensitivity syndromes. Others are IBS, chronic fataigue, tension headaches, TMJ, etc. These group of symptoms have been shown to have brain and nervous system components to them and are areas I address in treating these diagnoses.

Tor Wager, one of the leading neuroscientists on the ground breaking Boulder back pain study, contributed to this article that looked at putting forth a fibromyalgia model that looks at our internal threat vs. safety systems as well as how we deal with emotions. 

From the abstract, the paper states: “We propose than an imbalance in emotion regulation, reflected by an overactive threat system and underactive soothing system, might keep the salience network (also known as the midcingulo-insular network) in continuous alert mode, and this hyperactivation, in conjunction with other mechanisms, contributes to fibromyalgia.”

This is something I see daily in patients with central sensitivity syndromes as we need to promote more soothing and safety into a system that is constantly in a hypervigilant, hyperactive protective state. Regulating and handling emotions becomes an important piece of the puzzle when treating not only fibromyalgia but all central sensitivity conditions.