June 3, 2008 Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body. A University of Michigan study, published in The Journal of Pain, shows that fibromyalgia is associated with central nervous system abnormalities evidenced by patients’ elevated sensitivity to auditory and pressure sensations.
The Michigan researchers studied 31 subjects to determine if there is a global central nervous system problem underlying sensory processing in fibromyalgia patients. They noted that few studies have employed different stimuli in consistent ways and levels of intensity to measure pain sensitivities in this patient group. In this study, fibromyalgia patients and normal subjects were exposed to random auditory and pressure stimuli.
Consistent with prior research, the fibromyalgia subjects in the study showed greater sensitivity to auditory tones and reported higher sensitivity to daily sounds. Further, significant associations were observed between the auditory and pressure responses and support the claim that such abnormalities maybe related to a common pathophysiological mechanism. They also noted that fibromyalgia subjects perceived auditory stimuli to be of the same intensity as felt by control subjects, even though their actual intensity levels were lower.
The authors concluded their findings show that fibromyalgia is associated with a central nervous deficit in sensory processing. Further research is needed to examine mechanisms governing these perceptual abnormalities.
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