Health — 19 November 2013

By Pat Anson, Editor

A disruption in brain signals may contribute to increased pain sensitivity in fibromyalgia patients, according to new research.

A small study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism suggests that this altered brain processing may contribute to hyperalgesia – causing widespread pain and a lack of response to opioid pain medication.

“In patients with fibromyalgia there is an alteration in the central nervous system pain processing and a poor response to topical pain treatments, trigger point injections and opioids,” said lead author Dr. Marco Loggia from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“Our study examines the disruption of brain function involved in the individual experience of pain anticipation and pain relief.”

Researchers enrolled 31 patients with fibromyalgia and 14 healthy participants. Magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the brain and cuff pressure pain stimulation on a leg were performed on all subjects. During the MRI, participants received visual cues alerting them of impending pain onset (pain anticipation) and pain offset (relief anticipation).

The MRI images showed that during both pain anticipation and pain relief, fibromyalgia patients had a less robust response in the parts of their brains involved in sensory, affective, cognitive and pain regulating processes.

Read more at National Pain Report.

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About Author

Pat Anson, Editor

Pat is Editor in Chief of American News Report. He is a veteran journalist and a former correspondent and producer for HealthWeek (PBS), Nightly Business Report (PBS) and other nationally syndicated shows. Pat has won numerous journalism awards, including a Golden Mike award for investigative reporting.

(1) Reader Comment

  1. Small study, but fMRI results have been repeated. There are many theories, but hypersensitivity to pain is a consistent finding. Now it is about finding out why. I attended a migraine conference this past weekend and it is thought that some of the symptoms of early migraine in children present the same as what researchers are finding in FM. I asked the presenter about this, and he has his own theories on the difference between migraine and FM, but did admit they have similar problems. His thoughts are that migraine is a brain disease and FM has to do with elevations of substance P. He also admitted he doesn’t know that much about FM, but I had to ask because it appears in their research, those neurologists who study and treat headache only, are finding a gut connection in children and that headache is only one symptom of migraine. Treated early, it could reduce the incidence of adult migraine symptoms. This is thought to be true of FM as well. A strong correlation that I think needs further investigation.