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Recent research has linked a chronic pain disorder known as fibromyalgia to abnormal gut microbiomes for the first time. The research was published in the journal pain, and could eventually lead to diagnostic testing that could help many people suffering from chronic pain.

Amir Minerbi, who works with the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at Mcgill University in Montreal says, “We found that fibromyalgia and the symptoms of fibromyalgia — pain, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties — contribute more than any of the other factors to the variations we see in the microbiomes of those with the disease.”

He along with his colleagues enlisted the help of artificial intelligence, along with other medical techniques, to help them rule out any variables that could impact links between gut bacteria and fibromyalgia.

What they found was that there were significant links between 19 species of gut bacteria found in women who had fibromyalgia. The researchers discovered that the more abnormal the microbiome was, the more severe their chronic pain and other symptoms associated with the disease were.

On top of linking the two, they believe this evidence could one day lead to tests to be used to diagnose the disease.

Fibromyalgia is a disease that causes pain throughout the body, along with cognitive impairment, and a myriad of other symptoms.

The study was carried out by including 77 women aged 30-60 years old who had the disease. To compare, they had 79 healthy individuals that created three control groups that included first-degree relatives of the fibromyalgia patients, household members of the participants, and unrelated women who were age-matched.

Then, participants filled out dietary questionnaires for three days, and their questionnaires were analyzed. They found no significant discrepancies between the groups when it came to diet.

Researchers then examined their stool samples to check their microbiomes. They found 19 species of gut bacteria in the women with the disease.

“We observed,” note the authors, “a quantitative association between the abundance of several [species of bacteria] and the severity of [fibromyalgia]-related symptoms, including pain intensity, pain distribution, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive symptoms.”

To verify their research, they plan on carrying out additional studies, however, such information could prove useful in helping to effectively provide treatment and diagnose those suffering from fibromyalgia.