Public Release: 

Hypersensitivity to non-painful events may be part of pathology in fibromyalgia

Wiley

New research shows that patients with fibromyalgia have hypersensitivity to non-painful events based on images of the patients' brains, which show reduced activation in primary sensory regions and increased activation in sensory integration areas. Findings published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), suggest that brain abnormalities in response to non-painful sensory stimulation may cause the increased unpleasantness that patients experience in response to daily visual, auditory and tactile stimulation.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, musculoskeletal syndrome characterized by widespread pain, affecting roughly two percent of the world population, say experts. According to the ACR, five million people in the U.S. have fibromyalgia, which is more prevalent among women. In previous studies fibromyalgia patients report reduced tolerance to normal sensory (auditory, visual, olfactory, and tactile) stimulation in addition to greater sensitivity to pain.

For the present study, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess brain response to sensory stimulation in 35 women with fibromyalgia and 25 healthy, age-matched controls. Patients had an average disease duration of 7 years and a mean age of 47.

According to the study, patients reported increased unpleasantness in response to multisensory stimulation in daily life activities. Furthermore, fMRI displayed reduced activation of both the primary and secondary visual and auditory areas of the brain, and increased activation in sensory integration regions. These brain abnormalities mediated the increased unpleasantness to visual, auditory and tactile stimulation that patients reported to experience in daily life.

Lead study author, Dr. Marina López-Solà from the Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Colorado Boulder said, "Our study provides new evidence that fibromyalgia patients display altered central processing in response to multisensory stimulation, which are linked to core fibromyalgia symptoms and may be part of the disease pathology. The finding of reduced cortical activation in the visual and auditory brain areas that were associated with patient pain complaints may offer novel targets for neurostimulation treatments in fibromyalgia patients."

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This study is published in Arthritis & Rheumatology. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact sciencenewsroom@wiley.com.

Full citation: "Altered Fmri Responses to Non-Painful Sensory Stimulation in Fibromyalgia Patients." Marina López-Solà, Jesus Pujol, Tor D. Wager, Alba Garcia-Fontanals, Laura Blanco-Hinojo, Susana Garcia-Blanco, Violant Poca-Dias, Ben J. Harrison, Oren Contreras-Rodríguez, Jordi Monfort, Ferran Garcia-Fructuoso and Joan Deus. Arthritis & Rheumatology; Published Online: September 15, 2014 (DOI: 10.1002/art.38781).

URL Upon Publication: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/art.38781

About the Author: To arrange an interview with Dr. López-Solà, please contact Laura Snider with the University of Colorado at laura.snider@colorado.edu.

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About the Society

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., the American College of Rheumatology is an international professional medical society that represents more than 9,000 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. Rheumatologists are internists or pediatricians who are qualified by training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Over 50 million Americans -- including nearly 300,000 children -- suffer from the painful, disabling and sometimes fatal effects of arthritis and rheumatic diseases. The ACR's mission is to advance rheumatology. Learn more by visiting http://www.rheumatology.org. or follow ACR on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/acrheum.

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Arthritis & Rheumatology is an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and covers all aspects of inflammatory disease. The American College of Rheumatology (http://www.rheumatology.org) is the professional organization whose members share a dedication to healing, preventing disability, and curing the more than 100 types of arthritis and related disabling and sometimes fatal disorders of the joints, muscles, and bones. Members include practicing physicians, research scientists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, and social workers. The journal is published by Wiley on behalf of the ACR. For more information, please visit http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/art.

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