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Neurologic Signs Common with Fibromyalgia

Posted Sep 25 2009 10:21pm

I wrote previously about a study on fibromyalgia in a post titled Fibromyalgia May Be All in Your Head. In that study, researchers found that fibromyalgia patients had issues with blood flow, or perfusion, in their brains.

In a new study conducted at the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Institute at Harborview, Seattle, researchers found that fibromyalgia patients were more likely to have tingling and weakness in their legs and arms, poor balance and other neurological symptoms.

The research team, led by Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson of the University of Washington, studied 166 fibromyalgia patients and 66 without. All of the participants were examined by a neurologist and they completed a survey on their neurological symptoms.

There were 29 neurological categories that were tested. The fibromyalgia group had significantly more neurologic symptoms in 27 of the categories than the control group.

In addition, the fibromyalgia patients had greater dysfunction in certain nerves in the brain. They also had more “sensory” problems, motor abnormalities and gait problems.

The biggest differences were:

  • sensitivity to light, or “photophobia,” which was observed in 70 percent of fibromyalgia patients but in only 6 percent of the controls
  • poor balance, which was seen in 63 percent of fibromyalgia patients but only 4 percent of controls
  • weakness and tingling in the arms or legs, seen in more than 50% of fibromyalgia patients but in only around 4 percent of controls

These findings support several prior studies which appear to confirm that fibromyalgia is a “real” condition, and that there may be a “neuroanatomical” cause to the disease.

The findings of the study were published in the latest issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism.

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