All in the family

A recent trip home for the holidays has reinforced my own hunch based on completely anecdotal personal experience (i.e., highly unscientific) that there is a genetic component to suffering from chronic pain. Turns out though that recent research coming from our cousins across the pond at Kings College London is supporting my hunch, in a much more scientific fashion. 

You share everything with your family, right down to your DNA. In my case, we also seem to share chronic pain. Low back injuries involving nerve pain have impacted 4 out of 5 of us, and my mom and I both have been diagnosed with the fibro. We tend to be a gritty bunch that will push through pain and in that sense we have a very high tolerance to deal with pain. But the underlying fact is that most of us are in pain, every single day. And WTF, that can't be normal. 

Researchers at Kings College London seemed to agree, at least in part. The findings were published in, "Are Epigenetic Factors Implicated in Chronic Widespread Pain?" in PLOS One (a non-profit publisher of peer-reviewed articles). The gist of the study was to examine if our genes seem completely responsible for Chronic Widespread Pain (CWP), or if epigenetic factors (think outside factors that can impact how your genes express themselves) are at play. Previous research in the field estimates about 50% of the fault lies in your genes themselves, meaning that your DNA make up can make you susceptible to CWP. Your genetic make up is necessary, but not sufficient, for you to develop a CWP disease. It appears some additional mechanism then needs to change how your genes are expressing themselves in order to trigger a CWP problem. 

In summary, CWP diseases (like fibromyalgia) are not unlike the inherited lycanthropic trait (AKA: family curse of werewolf-ism triggered only upon killing another person) in my beloved CW shows The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. (If you still haven't watched these yet and have no idea what I'm referring to, seriously binge watch next weekend. The references are only going to continue...)