Regions of the Brain Involved in Pain Processing are Different for Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Shows
Posted Aug 05 2010 12:00am
Jenifer Goodwin, healthday reporter recently showcased a new study showing that fibromyalgia patients have more "connectivity" between brain networks and regions of the brain involved in pain processing. The new study suggests why sufferers feel pain even when there is no obvious cause.
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Michigan completed this study and published it in the August issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Researchers had 18 women with fibromyalgia undergo six-minute fMRI brain scans, and compared their results to women without the condition.
The participants in the study were asked to rate the intensity of the pain they were feeling at the time of the test. Some people reported feeling little pain, while others reported feeling more intense pain.
Brain scans showed the connectivity, or neural activity, between certain brain networks and the insular cortex, a region of the brain involved in pain processing, was heightened in women with fibromyalgia compared to those without the condition.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that's characterized by
presence of multiple tender points
Having fibromyalgia can also cause psychological issues, including anxiety, depression and memory and concentration problems, sometimes called the "fibromyalgia fog."
Prior research has shown that people with fibromyalgia feel a given amount of pain more intensely than others, Napadow explained. In other words, studies have shown a typical person might rate a painful stimuli a "one" on a scale or one to 10, while a person with fibromyalgia might rate the pain a 5 or higher.
SOURCES: Vitaly Napadow, Ph.D, neuroscientist and assistant professor, radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Philip Mease, M.D., director, rheumatology research, Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, and member, National Fibromyalgia Association medical advisory board; August 2010 Arthritis & Rheumatism