Reporter: Shannon Samson
New Media Producer: Kerry Corum
An Evansville physician is going to the American Academy of Pain Management conference in San Antonio Wednesday, to present what could be a breakthrough finding.
He suspects the chronic pain of diseases like fibromyalgia could be caused by a series of viruses.
Anita Held, 64-years-old, needs a basket to hold all the pills she needs to get her through the day. Fibromyalgia leaves her sore all over and constantly tired. She says, “Breathing is an effort, just moving the least little bit is just an effort. So some days I actually will sleep all day long.”
Pain specialist Dr. David Johnson realized the fatigue, aches and chills many of his patients describe are the same symptoms that come with a case of the flu. So he had an idea: What if he tested them for some common viruses? “I went through and listed about three or four viruses, and didn’t even know if the labs could test for them, and my gosh, they came back positive.”
He eventually came up with list of 17 viruses and found that his fibromyalgia patients were all testing positive for anywhere from three to nine viruses each. Dr. Johnson believes their immune systems aren’t recognizing the viruses as pathogens and as they steal cell material to replicate, the patient is left with a host of ailments. He’s prescribing anti-viral medications to try to suppress the viruses, which can take years.
In the meantime, Johnson says, “I want to get the word out to physicians to test for the virus, use the anti-viral medication and let’s all have some input and see if we can eradicate this condition.”
That would be a dream come true for Anita Held, who just found out she has three viruses. “I am glad they found something, because now we have something to work with, is the way I look at it. That’s not bad news.”
She says it’s good news to think maybe someday she could spend more time with her grandchildren without getting too tired.
So far, 26 of Dr. Johnson’s patients have tested positive for up to nine viruses. He says six are responding well to anti-viral medication.
Besides fibromyalgia, the treatment is also helping sufferers of chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndromes.
Dr. Johnson outlined a list of the viruses he’s testing for in fibromyalgia cases:
*Epstein Barr virus EBV
*Herpes virus: 8 types
*Parvovirus B 19
*Varicella – Zoster virus VZV
*Coxsackie A and B virus
*The most frequently involved virses. Most patients will have from three to nine of these viruses at abnormal levels.
For more information on Dr. Johnson’s research, contact his office at 812-425-2662.