Fibromyalgia: pink palms, smooth feet

” The biology of pain is never straightforward, even when it appears to be”, Lorimer Moseley

I thought I knew it all: fibromyalgia is a constant hyper-arousal of the central nervous system and all the symptoms that evolve from that disorder. But recently I met with an internist who held my hands palms upward and told me she would have known I had fibromyalgia just by looking at my palms which are pink! I have pink palms, which is a sign of fibromyalgia and its impact on ‘nerves’.  She also commented on my pink cheeks. I was stunned. This was new to me, that this is often a sign of fibromyalgia.

So back to google again to find out more about this phenomenon. My hands ache and will hurt more as the weather becomes colder, of that I have no doubt. They ached during the heat of the summer. I have to remember to keep moving and get up when my desire is to curl up on the sofa. I rub my hands constantly with cannabis cream. I also have carpal tunnel in both arms and hands that keeps me awake at night. Worse is that I know surgery for carpel will reactivate my central nervous system and I will have massive flare-ups post surgery. I don’t know why I never noticed that my palms and back of my fingers were very pink! I did notice that my feet were unusually soft and smooth and hurt as much as my hands.

 

My hands and feet ache especially when there is a weather change. The skin of the hands and feet are noticeably red in many with fibromyalgia according to the researcher Dr. Frank Rice in his study published in Pain Medicine in August , 2013. The source of  my blog is taken from the internet- Bottomline Inc. Very basically the research team’s theory is based upon the physiology of how some blood flows directly from arteries into veins via arteriole-venule (AV) shunts. These valves open and close to control the passage of blood and respond to cues from the nervous system in order to regulate body temperature. “The parts of the body where AV shunts are most plentiful are the cheeks, nose, soles of the feet and palms of the hands”. It is thought that if the shunts are unable to function well because of excessive nerve fibers the mismanaged blood flow could be the source of widespread muscle pain.  In the study they found that the” AV shunts were four times larger and had roughly two to eight times as many nerve fibers as those in women without fibromyalgia”, using various technologies as measurement tools.

Dr. Rice writes: ” The AV shunts are sites where sensory nerve fibers are intermingled with nerve fibers of the sympathetic nervous system, which is activated by stress.” Aha! This feeds into my view that those of us with fibromyalgia suffered from childhood trauma, were and are highly sensitive children/adults, resulting finally in the central nervous system developing a state of constant hyper- arousal, easily activated by stress/ anxiety, even something as seemingly innocuous as weather changes. So, let me be clear. I don’t think these nerve endings – or too many nerve fibers are the CAUSE, rather they are the RESULT.

It seems to make perfect sense to me. My cheeks have always been very red and the soles of my feet so pink and tender that people who gave me pedicures, or massage therapists exclaimed they had never seen such smooth feet before. In fact though, they are tender and I cannot wear sandals as my tender feet burn painfully upon contact with the soles of shoes. I have watched when others have their feet “sandpapered” as they have pedicures, and winced as I could not imagine how that would affect me! There has never been a time when I didn’t have smooth feet or pink cheeks! Imagine! I learned just recently that these were signs of fibromyalgia. I can’t believe I never noticed how pink and smooth my palms are before this.

About Barbara Keddy

I am a Professor Emeritus, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. My B.Sc.is in Nursing while my MA. and Ph.D. are in Sociology. I am married, a mother and grandmother living on the east coast of Canada. I have personally lived with fibromyalgia for about 40 years. I published a book with iUniverse in 2007. This book detailed living with this condition and allowed the voices of twenty women who have fibromyalgia to tell their stories.
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2 Responses to Fibromyalgia: pink palms, smooth feet

  1. Susan Shannon says:

    Dear Dr Keddy
    Your blog is so helpful to those of us with these ‘weird symptoms’. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I too have the smooth feet and red hands not so much the cheeks unless I get really excited about something. I never connected it with fibro. How interesting.
    Some of my hand and foot pain is arthritis as well as fibro and the feet also suffer from sciatic nerve injury on both sides. I’ve pretty much given up trying to figure out what is causing particular pains.
    This statement and others similar to it bother me quite a bit “Aha! This feeds into my view that those of us with fibromyalgia suffered from childhood trauma, were and are highly sensitive children/adults,… easily activated by stress/ anxiety,… .”. I think it is just to easy to put the blame on the victim for not being able to handle life’s events.
    My theory is that the mechanism behind fibromyalgia is a viral or bacterial infection. Peptic ulcers were put down to stress and anxiety for years . Then it was found to be caused by a bacteria and can be cured with antibiotics. Because fibromyalgia is mainly a problem for women it may take a while for the medical profession to unravel it’s mystery. eg. Herpes Zoster – stress? no a virus.
    Off topic: my son suffered horribly from carpal tunnel syndrome and was up for surgery too. Then he wore braces on both arms for about 14 months. One wrist was better and the other was no longer a candidate for surgery. But he still has to be careful. I hope you get relief from yours too. Living with constant pain is exhausting.
    Thanks again for your interesting and helpful website.
    Best regards
    Sue

  2. Thank you, dear Sue:
    Please know I would never blame the victim. I am so careful about that. I do equate fibro to PTSD and believe that those of us with these (this)conditions are highly sensitive persons. While Dr. Elaine Aron does not specifically discuss fibromyalgia in her theory about HSPs, she in fact, states that we have a gift and are like canaries in a coal mine.Being so sensitive we react to issues which others might experience and have them roll off them, while we HSPs have feelings so intense they become difficult to let go of.I agree that a virus, divorce, death of a loved one, war, surgery, an accident, any crisis can finally deplete our coping mechanisms and the central nervous system is in a state of perpetual hyper-arousal.
    I do believe that the incident that precipitated the finale is when we become diagnosed. In my view this is secondary to our HSP type personality and subject to the many conditions that arouse the nervous system, e.g. weather changes.
    I believe that those of us with fibromyalgia are highly intuitive, extremely (overly) emphatic and not victims but what the world needs more of! But then I acknowledge that this is my theory and can be disputed at any time. But years of studying this phenomenon (and chronic fatigue and PTSD) have led me to think we are all HSPs (and should be proud of it). Do read some of Dr. Aron’s works and let me know what you think.
    I am so happy to have your comments. Yikes, re your son’s experience with carpal tunnel is one more reason I am hesitating having the surgery.
    Kind regards,
    Barbara

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