(09/16/13) - Researchers have identified a cause for unexplained widespread
chronic pain in adults and children. Many patients who experience chronic pain
throughout their bodies are told its all in their heads.
Laura Waslo is passionate about the guitar, but in 2009 chronic widespread pain prevented her from playing "it was a burning pain in my legs and feet, and then also my feet, which were getting red and swollen all the time."
Several doctors told Laura it was nerve damage from her diabetes, but no one could make the pain go away
Until she met Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, of Massachusetts General Hospital, who diagnosed Laura with autoimmune neuropathy.
"This is a particular type of widespread nerve damage that is different from the diabetic neuropathy," Oaklander says.
Although it's been diagnosed in adults, Dr. Oaklander's study of 41 patients found it also occurs in those under 21.
In addition to chronic pain, Laura experienced insomnia, blood pressure swings, and sometimes passed out when she stood up. Through skin biopsies, and heart and blood pressure tests, doctors discovered neuropathy in younger patients.
"We were seeing abnormal skin biopsy test results or abnormal autonomic function test results. these are things that previously had not been described in young patients," says Dr. Max Klein, also of BGH.
Laura's pain level dropped with steroid treatment followed by transfusion therapy, "I feel great now. My symptoms pretty much disappeared."
Other symptoms of autoimmune neuropathy include numbness, tingling, and decreased reflexes. Some patients say their widespread chronic pain was brought on by an earlier illness, infection, or injury.
ABC12 Main Station