Fibromyalgia Patients are not only Hypersensitive to Painful Stimuli but also to Sound Stimuli.

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Fibromyalgia is a chronic widespread pain syndrome associated with hypersensitivity to nociceptive stimuli. This increased sensitivity of FM patients has been associated with central sensitization of dorsal horn neurons. Increasing evidence, however, suggests that the mechanisms of FM hypersensitivity not only affect pain but include light, smell, and sound. We hypothesized that supraspinal augmentation of sensory input including sound represent a hallmark of FM. We tested 23 FM patients and 28 healthy controls (HC) for sensory augmentation of nociceptive and non-nociceptive sensations: For assessment of nociceptive augmentation we used sensitivity adjusted mechanical and heat ramp & hold stimuli and for assessment of sound augmentation, we applied wideband noise stimuli using a random-staircase design. Quantitative sensory testing demonstrated increased heat and mechanical pain sensitivity in FM participants (p < .001). The sound pressures needed to report mild, moderate, and intense sound levels were significantly lower in FM compared to HC (p < .001), consistent with auditory augmentation. . FM patients are not only augmenting noxious sensations but also sound, suggesting that FM augmentation mechanisms are not only operant in the spinal cord but also in the brain. Whether the central nervous system mechanisms for auditory and nociceptive augmentation are similar, needs to be determined in future studies. PERSPECTIVE: This study presents QST evidence that the hypersensitivity of FM patients is not limited to painful stimuli but also to innocuous stimuli like sound. Our results suggest that brain mechanisms may be responsible for the increased sensitivity of FM patients.

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Authors: Roland Staud, Melyssa M Godfrey, Michael E Robinson