Fibromyalgia Patients More Sensitive?

Pain Threshold May Be Lower in Fibromyalgia Patients, Research Suggests

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on May 14, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

May 14, 2007 -- Fibromyalgia patients may have lower pain thresholds than people without fibromyalgia, according to a new research review.

Fibromyalgia is a complex pain syndrome with symptoms including muscle pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and tender points at certain points of the body. Its exact cause isn't known.

The new research review, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, comes from doctors including Aryeh Abeles, MD, of New York University's medical school.

Abeles and colleagues reviewed 111 fibromyalgia studies published in English between 1970 and 2006.

The review shows that compared to people without fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia patients tend to process pain differently and to be particularly sensitive to pain.

That heightened sensitivity to pain likely stems from pain-processing problems in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), according to the review.

Exactly how those problems develop isn't clear. Learning more about pain processing in fibromyalgia may lead to new fibromyalgia treatments, note Abeles and colleagues.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Abeles, A. Annals of Internal Medicine, May 15, 2007; vol 146: pp 726-734. WebMD Medical Reference: "Understanding Fibromyalgia -- the Basics." News release, American College of Physicians.

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