By Cort Johnson in Health Rising.
Dr. Anne Oaklander MD, PhD, is making a difference – maybe a very big difference in the lives of many. Making a difference runs actually runs in her family. Her mother, the neurologist Louise Rapin, was one of the seminal figures advancing the concept of autism spectrum disorder.
Oaklander is director of the Nerve Unit in the Massachusetts General Department of Neurology and an associate professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. The first to break the news that small fiber neuropathy (SFN) is found in fibromyalgia, her 2013 paper “Objective evidence that small–fiber polyneuropathy underlies some illnesses currently labeled as fibromyalgia” started off a blizzard of work (at least for fibromyalgia) on the subject. Since 2013, thirteen papers have examined SFPN in fibromyalgia – an unusually high number of research papers for this very poorly funded disease.
Now Oaklander is presenting evidence that not only is SFN found in FM, ME/CFS and other diseases, but that it can be treated as well. If she’s right she may be the first to crack a major subset of patients across an entire range of mysterious diseases. She doesn’t think these patients have ME/CFS or FM at all; they have something called small fiber polyneuropathy (SFPN).
Making the Invisible Visible
The problem for SFPN sufferers – and ME/CFS and FM – has been that the diseases are invisible. There’s no way to tell from the outside that the small nerve fibres in your skin or elsewhere have been damaged or destroyed.
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