A new blood test could improve diagnosis of fibromyalgia

Researchers have found a blood test that might make it easier to diagnose fibromyalgia, which could improve the treatment process

Fibromyalgia, a chronic health condition that causes pain throughout the body, can make it difficult to perform daily activities and significantly affect the quality of life. Now, researchers have found a blood test that could make it easier to diagnose the chronic pain condition, which could improve the treatment process.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that affects 6% of the population worldwide and is characterised by widespread muscle pain and fatigue. It’s often difficult to differentiate it from other disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, osteoarthritis or chronic low back pain, a press statement explained.

The study, conducted by a team from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, University of Ohio and the University of Texas, found a blood test that can isolate and analyse specific chemical signals in the blood that could show how it is distinct from other rheumatic diseases as well as persistent Covid. This could make the diagnosis quicker, easier and more reliable.

For the study, the research team collected blood samples from three different groups: people diagnosed with fibromyalgia, people with similar rheumatic diseases and people without any of these pathologies, who served as a control group. 

The samples were then “illuminated” through Raman spectroscopy, wherein special laser light is used to study how molecules in blood, such as amino acids, reacted to it. Based on these interactions, the researchers examined differences in the chemical characteristics of the blood samples from all these groups, Press Trust of India explained.

According to the researchers, the results highlighted the “chemical signatures” of amino acid molecules in blood, which could differentiate fibromyalgia from other diseases. The findings were published in the journal Biomedicines.

“This tool is fast, accurate and non-invasive, and can easily be integrated into the clinical environment to improve the quality of life of patients with fibromyalgia”, study author Sílvia de Lamo said in a statement.

The tool, which is still in the validation phase, could be available in health centres in about two years, according to the research team.

In recent times, researchers have been looking into ways to improve the quality of life of people with fibromyalgia. For instance, a January 2024 study, published in the journal PAIN, had shown that cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), a psychological treatment focussing on altering thoughts, attitudes and beliefs, and behaviour linked with them, significantly reduces symptoms of fibromyalgia.

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