At Pathways researchers and doctors study disorders like FM or chronic fatigue syndrome. Dr. Pridgen’s pathway to fibromyalgia was through the gut. Pridgen saw a pattern emerge in his treatment of thousands of patients with chronic gastrointestinal issues that intrigued him. A patient would get better, but then experience a stressful event that would send him/her back into the soup. They would get better, but during the next relapse they would stay sick longer and their recovery period would be shorter. Eventually they would be sick all the time.
The problem, he thought, had to be some sort of pathogen that was steadily increasing with every recurrence. Giving his patients antivirals helped, but problems remained. Then he found that adding an anti-inflammatory (which also had anti-viral properties) reduced their fatigue, gastrointestinal complaints, depression and anxiety markedly and improved their energy. Are you taking any anti inflammatory medications and noticing a relapse when you don't take it for a few days because the drug is labeled as needed? An observational study indicating that the drug approach had a 90% ‘efficacy rate'.Pridgen’s theory fits glove and hand with several other fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome theories. As with Van Elzakkers’ vagus nerve infection theory for ME/CFS, Pridgen’s theory begins with a nerve loving virus that takes up residence for life in nerves in the sensory ganglia found across the body. Pridgen believes viruses, are the key in FM/ME/CFS.
One of those viruses the Human Herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is a set of two closely related herpes viruses known as HHV-6A and HHV-6B that infect nearly all human beings, typically before the age of two. The onset of HHV-6 in infancy is often symptomatic, resulting in childhood fever, diarrhea, and rash (commonly known as roseola). Like the other viruses—Epstein Barr virus, varicella zoster virus, etc—HHV-6 establishes life-long latency and can become reactivated later in life.
Pridgen’s patent application indicates that he believes that stressors and peptides and hormones released by the sympathetic nervous system and HPA axis set the stage for herpes simplex-1 reactivation. Pridgen proposes that repeated HSV reactivation can kill the sensory nerve cells ( small fiber neuropathy?) and destroy part of the nerve ganglion.
A growing number of these types of studies also suggest that HHV-6 may play a role in patients with chronic neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, status epilepticus, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Nearly 100% of us have been infected with the HHV-6 virus by early childhood and have antibodies to it, and at least 30% of us have small but detectable levels of latent virus in our blood (Alvarez-Lafuente 2002 & Clark 1996). Sadly, tests cannot determine reliably if a patient has a chronic central nervous system (CNS) infection that has reactivated because there is so little virus circulating outside of the tissues.
Your best defense is finding a doctor who is familiar with this type of syndrome. Take a few minutes for your health and look through your providers on your health plan. You may be pleasantly surprised, with a bit of investigating, you find someone a bit more knowledgeable than your neurologist or PCP. And, in the meantime, check into anti inflammatory medications to see if they help.