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Is electrical stimulation the answer for fibromyalgia sufferers?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as much as two percent of the general population here in the U.S. suffers from fibromyalgia. For those unfamiliar with the condition, it is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a disorder characterized by everything from chronic pain and fatigue to sleep difficulties and mood issues.

Interestingly enough, medical professionals have yet to determine the exact cause of fibromyalgia. However, the prevailing theory is that the disorder can likely be traced to overactive brain activity that serves to amplify feelings of pain among sufferers.

While medications can help treat fibromyalgia, they don't necessarily work for everyone.

Fortunately, researchers are constantly at work trying to find a viable treatment for the condition. Take for example, the promising work being done at 16 medical centers across the nation, including the University of Cincinnati, where researchers are examining whether electrical stimulation could provide the next key breakthrough in treatment.

The researchers are currently giving volunteer fibromyalgia patients treatment via a therapy known as RINCE, which stands for "Reduced Impedance Noninvasive Cortical Electrostimulation."

Here, the researchers position a special electrode called a NeuroPoint over a certain area of the skull surface in order to send a gentle electric stimulation to the portion of the brain believed to house the pain-processing centers.

"The idea is that this stimulation will correct the abnormalities that are thought to lead to chronic pain in patients with fibromyalgia," said a researcher at the University of Cincinnati's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience.

The non-invasive and pain-free treatments are administered twice per week for a period of 12 weeks, and take only 11 minutes.

Here's hoping these efforts prove successful and that we see real progress in the treatment of fibromyalgia. In the meantime, those left unable to work by the severity of this condition should strongly consider reaching out to a skilled legal professional to learn more about their options for securing Social Security disability benefits.

Source: WCPO, "Checkups: Can gentle brain stimulation ease the pain of fibromyalgia symptoms?," Mark Bowen, Gretchen MacKnight, Oct. 30, 2014

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