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Striatal grey matter increase in patients suffering from Fibromyalgia - a voxel-based morphometry study – Source: Pain, Dec 2007

  [ 146 votes ]   [ 11 Comments ]
By T Schmidt-Wilcke, et al. • • December 2, 2007

[Note: ‘voxel-based morphometry’ is a neuroimaging analysis technique that allows “mapping” of differences in brain volume.]

Fibromyalgia (FM), among other chronic pain syndromes, such as chronic tension type headache and atypical face pain, is classified as a so-called dysfunctional pain syndrome. Patients with Fibromyalgia suffer from widespread, "deep" muscle pain and often report concomitant depressive episodes, fatigue and cognitive deficits. Clear evidence for structural abnormalities within the muscles or soft tissue of Fibromyalgia patients is lacking.

There is growing evidence that clinical pain in Fibromyalgia has to be understood in terms of pathological activity of central structures involved in nociception. We applied MR-imaging and voxel-based morphometry, to determine whether Fibromyalgia is associated with altered local brain morphology.

We investigated 20 patients with the diagnosis of primary Fibromyalgia and 22 healthy controls. VBM revealed a conspicuous pattern of altered brain morphology in the right superior temporal gyrus (decrease in grey matter), the left posterior thalamus (decrease in grey matter), in the left orbitofrontal cortex (increase in grey matter), left cerebellum (increase in grey matter) and in the striatum bilaterally (increase in grey matter).

Our data suggest that Fibromyalgia is associated with structural changes in the Central Nervous System of patients suffering from this chronic pain disorder. They might reflect either a consequence of chronic nociceptive input or they might be causative to the pathogenesis of Fibromyalgia. The affected areas are known to be both, part of the somatosensory system and part of the motor system.

Source: Pain. 2007 Nov;132 Suppl 1:S109-16. PMID: 17587497, by Schmidt-Wilcke T, Luerding R, Weigand T, Jürgens T, Schuierer G, Leinisch E, Bogdahn U. Department of Neurology, Universitätsklinik Regensburg, Universitätsstrasse 84, D-93053 Regensburg, Germany. [E-mail: ]

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Article Comments Post a Comment

grey matter increase study of 12/2/07
Posted by: JONSsis
Dec 5, 2007
There have been so many small studies done, and currently being done that reflect the reality of brain change with fibro - it would be great if some researcher would compile these results. I am very encouraged that so many are coming to some of the same conclusions. Check PubMed, the book world and keep your information current. You may not feel better immediately, but we do know that a lot of people are really looking for answers to this mess we live with - keep your chin up if it doesn't hurt too much.
Reply Reply

Brain differences
Posted by: Svette_Palme
Jan 19, 2008
I agree, J. - it seems to be a simple enough thing, especially compared to other research that is going on, but nobody is doing it.


I had an abnormal MRI years ago
Posted by: gracie01
Dec 13, 2007
I had an abnormal MRI years ago yet none since then have had any of the same opinions of that person. I don't get it. It seems as if they know I have FMS then they don't want to look at the scans.
Reply Reply

Abnormal MRI
Posted by: guaima
Dec 24, 2007
I also had an abnormal MRI when I first became sick with FM and nothing else was said about it other than, "it's probably normal for you." At the time I wasn't alert enought to ask for further diagnosis. My Dr. only said I had a lot more space in the front part of my brain. I'm anxiously waiting for some kind of relief other than Hydrocodone and Morphine.


Sensory Processing - Chronic Pain / Learning Disorders
Posted by: Svette_Palme
Jan 19, 2008
After reading a book called "The Brain that Changes Itself" [by Dr. Doidge] it struck me that chronic pain people have 'sensory processing abnormalities' in the brain. Some of these abnormalities are similar to learning disorders, or at least in the same areas of the brain, and maybe people with learning disorders like ADD and ADHD are more prone to chronic pain. Difficulty with reading, and jerky handwriting [esp. in people who prefer to print], can both be due to not being able to focus and pay attention. Our eyes dart around, our thoughts do not stay on the task at hand; our brains get ahead of the task. Dr. Doidge also pointed out that television contributes to the 'scanning around' effect because so many moving images reminds our primitive selves that we are either looking for prey or wary of predators in the natural setting. To me, it seems pretty obvious that 'sensory processing in the brain' must be a major part of the chronic pain condition. Since I also have some learning disabilities, I thought they might go together - our own experiences are often as good an indicator of reality as all the research!! There is precious little research on it, but at least there is more now than a few years ago. I have gathered up every tidbit I can find online and in the public library about it.
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