Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ordinary Touches Multiply Into Severe Pain For Fibromyalgia Patients

Date:
May 24, 1999
Source:
University of Florida
Summary:
Researchers at the University of Florida and elsewhere are beginning to piece together clues that reveal the physical basis of the puzzling syndrome that causes severe fatigue and aches, and has defied easy diagnosis.

By Eric Benjamin Lowe

Related Articles


GAINESVILLE, Fla.---The millions of Americans who suffer from fibromyalgia live with a two-edged sword: excruciating pain, accompanied by the doubts of many who dismiss it as a made-up illness invented by a troubled mind.

But researchers at the University of Florida and elsewhere are beginning to piece together clues that reveal the physical basis of the puzzling syndrome that causes severe fatigue and aches, and has defied easy diagnosis.

UF scientists have found an abnormal central nervous system reaction in those with fibromyalgia-the body magnifies ordinary repetitive stimulation into an experience of crippling pain.

"This is particularly important because it has been unclear if fibromyalgia was just an imagined illness or a real syndrome," said Dr. Roland Staud, an associate professor of medicine at UF's College of Medicine who also is affiliated with the UF Brain Institute. "We now have good evidence that shows that it's not a psychological abnormality, butthat there is a neurological abnormality present."

Staud, who presented his research findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology last November, recently was awarded a National Institutes of Health grant worth nearly $800,000 to continue his studies for the next four years. Donald Price, a UFprofessor of oral and maxillofacial surgery, and Charles Vierck, a UF professor of neuroscience, are collaborating on the research. Their goal is to develop a better understanding of the condition, with an eye toward improving diagnostic tests and treatments.

An estimated 3.7 million people in the United States - primarily women who are diagnosed during their 30s and 40s - have fibromyalgia, according to the NIH. A chronic illness with no known cure, its cause also is not known. Researchers have theorized that an injury to the central nervous system or an infectious agent might be responsible for triggeringit in people who have inherited susceptibility. Symptoms include persistent and widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and tenderness in the neck, spine, shoulders and hips.

Staud and colleagues found the central nervous system abnormality byconducting a series of repetitive stimulation tests on people with thesyndrome as well as healthy research participants. The tests involved repeatedly placing warm plates on their hands and arms. The healthy participants felt the sensation but did not report it as pain.

For those with fibromyalgia, however, the sensation would magnify with each repetition into an experience of crippling and unbearable pain.

"When a sensation signal reaches the spinal cord, the signal can be omitted, changed or augmented," Staud said. "If it is augmented, then something that is innocuous, such as pressure on the skin, can then be perceived as a painful stimulus."

Jessica LeMay, one of Staud's patients, has been battling fibromyalgiasince 1993. The 30-year-old Lake City resident said the pain starts in one area and usually spreads, sometimes becoming overwhelming.

"I imagine if someone had taken a baseball bat and beaten me with it,that's got to be what it feels like," she said. "Depending on the day, I'll just move out of the way if someone tries to touch me."

The pain of fibromyalgia often interferes with a person's working life.

"These are people who are diagnosed in their productive years. Many have personal or professional problems adjusting to the pain experience," Staud said. "The illness makes some people feel dysfunctional because they can't do the activities they once did."

The condition can worsen from stress and inadequate sleep, Staud said. Because living with fibromyalgia often causes stress, and pain makes sleeping difficult, a vicious cycle develops.

LeMay said many people dismiss her condition, not understanding the "huge difference" between her severe fatigue and the healthy person's occasional tiredness.

"When this fatigue would come about, it's almost like a weight being dropped on you, and you can't function anymore," she said.

LeMay said she is hopeful that Staud's research will lead to moreeffective treatment for fibromyalgia patients and better understanding by the general public.

"In our society, you either get better or you die, and fibromyalgiapatients don't do that," she said. "We don't fit in the mold, so people don't know what to do with us."

-----------------------------------------

Recent UF Health Science Center news releases are available at http://www.health.ufl.edu/hscc/index.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Florida. "Ordinary Touches Multiply Into Severe Pain For Fibromyalgia Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 May 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990521094553.htm>.
University of Florida. (1999, May 24). Ordinary Touches Multiply Into Severe Pain For Fibromyalgia Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990521094553.htm
University of Florida. "Ordinary Touches Multiply Into Severe Pain For Fibromyalgia Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990521094553.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins