A Systematic Review into the Influence of Temperature on Fibromyalgia Pain: Meteorological Studies and Quantitative Sensory Testing.
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic widespread pain condition of unknown aetiology. The role of temperature in FMS pain has not been reviewed systematically. The goal of this study was to review the influences of temperature on pain in FMS, from meteorological and quantitative sensory testing (QST) studies. The review was registered with Prospero: ID-CRD42020167687, and followed PRISMA guidance. Databases interrogated were: MEDLINE (via OVID), EMBASE, PubMed, Web of Science, ScienceDirect, CINAHL and ProQuest (Feb’20). Exclusion criteria were: age <18, animal studies, non-English and non-controlled articles. Thirteen studies pertaining to ambient temperature and FMS pain were identified; 9 of these found no uniform relationship. Thirty-five QST studies were identified, 17 of which assessed cold pain thresholds (CPTs). All studies showed numerically reduced CPTs in patients, ranging from 10.9°C-26.3°C vs. 5.9°C-13.5°C in controls; this was statistically-significant in 14/17. Other thermal thresholds were often abnormal. We conclude that the literature provides consistent evidence for an abnormal sensitisation of FMS patients’ temperature-sensation systems. Additional work is required to elucidate the factors that determine why a sub-group of patients perceive low ambient temperatures as painful, and to characterise that group. PERSPECTIVE: Patients often report increased pain with changes in ambient temperature; even disabling, extreme temperature sensitivity in winter. Understanding this phenomenon may help clinicians provide reassurance and advice to patients and may guide research into the everyday impact of such hypersensitivity, whilst directing future work into the pathophysiology of FMS.