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A Psychophysical Study of Auditory and Pressure Sensitivity in Patients with Fibromyalgia and Healthy Controls – Source: Journal of Pain, Feb 14, 2008

  [ 94 votes ]   [ 7 Comments ]
By Michael E. Geisser, Daniel J. Clauw, et al. • • February 29, 2008

Fibromyalgia (FM) is characterized by widespread tenderness. Studies have also reported that persons with FM are sensitive to other stimuli, such as auditory tones. We hypothesized that subjects with FM would display greater sensitivity to both pressure and auditory tones and report greater sensitivity to sounds encountered in daily activities.

FM subjects (n = 30) and healthy control subjects (n = 28) were administered auditory tones and pressure using the same psychophysical methods to deliver the stimuli and a common way of scaling responses. Subjects were also administered a self-report questionnaire regarding sensitivity to everyday sounds.

Participants with FM displayed significantly greater sensitivity to all levels of auditory stimulation (Ps < .05).

The magnitude of difference between FM patients' lowered auditory sensitivity (relative to control subjects) was similar to that seen with pressure, and pressure and auditory ratings were significantly correlated in both control subjects and subjects with FM.

FM patients also were more sensitive to everyday sounds (t = 8.65, P < .001).

These findings support that FM is associated with a global central nervous system augmentation in sensory processing. Further research is needed to examine the neural substrates associated with this abnormality and its role in the etiology and maintenance of FM.

Perspective: Muscle tenderness is the hallmark of FM, but the findings of this study and others suggest that persons with FM display sensitivity to a number of sensory stimuli. These findings suggest that FM is associated with a global central nervous system augmentation of sensory information. These findings may also help to explain why persons with FM display a number of comorbid physical symptoms other than pain.

Source: Journal of Pain. 2008 Feb 14 [E-pub ahead of print]. PMID: 18280211, by Geisser ME, Glass JM, Rajcevska LD, Clauw DJ, Williams DA, Kileny PR, Gracely RH. Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. [E-mail:]

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Article Comments Post a Comment

fibromyalgia sensitivity
Posted by: hensue
Mar 5, 2008
Yes, I am not a doctor. I went to two neurologist 10 years ago. When you have bladder spasm. Headaches, flu symptoms. Pain so bad all over your body. Nothing stops it. It is definitely neuro. Nerve centered, Why I dont know. I have a son in Afghanistan. Just the heightned worry of that makes me worse. Do you know how hard it is to get any medicine to calm your body down? Of course they all think your druggies. I function pretty well if I take wellbutrin 150 sr twice a day. You cannot have that rush at once it causes a flare. Even a change in my diet makes symptoms worse. Try not to eat sugar and carbs. My whole system goes into a more energy but also more stimulated mode. More pain. If I can take something even a half a valuim it will stop or make it tolerable. I new 10 years ago sound, everything is more stimulated to us. The problem is what are peole going do about it. You cannot just eat carbs and get fatter. If you try any real excercise you have a flair. I am talking moderation in everything. You are on the right path. They will not give u the medicine without a fight and paying money you dont have. Sometimes the suffering is to much. Calming those receptors down. When you have pain helps more than anything. Thanks Susan Redifer The reason I went to two neurologist i did not believe I had this and two doctors had given me elavil. I thought they though i was crazy. You kinda are when you are in pain. I was so lucky all 3 doctors I went to said you have classic symptoms of fibromyalgia. The doctor at Emory in Atlanta told me straight up how it was going to be from now on. In the respect i was diagnosed right away. I was very lucky
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new medications that helped me.
Posted by: dpauline
Mar 5, 2008
I feel bad for you-I know how it is. I am a 72yr. old retired/disabled nurse--and after working with Drs. for YEARS ( some 30) yrs ago ---no one seemed to know what was wrong with me. Only diagnosed by Dr. Jon Russell in San Antonio, a few yrs. ago. I started having what I thought was RLS-only it was getting too painful, and keeping me up at night.--finally diagnosed as "myoclonus" and I can NOT explain to anyone just how awful the pain was getting ( they look at you like you are nuts ) I tried taking carb/levo- it helped for a short time ( my younger brother takes it at night and it helps him.) I saw 5-6 neurologists- painfull testing-they blamed it on a "bad back" and stenosis, and I was told there was nothing they could do " just keep taking pain meds," FINALLY someone put me on "requip"-it has been a life saver ! only I must take 0.25 mg. about every 5 hrs-soon as it wears off, the God awful leg spasms start , I also take xanax for sleep, and it works. There is NO way I could have kept going with this kind of pain, I try and stay as active as I can, but have many other health problems, I think you just have to do research yourself, try different medications, and find a combo that works for you, and not stop looking for help. Good luck to you. dee.


Psycholphysical Study of Auditory and Pressure Sensitivity and Fibromayalgia
Posted by: pearls
Mar 5, 2008
My thanks to Drs. Geisser, Clauw, et al. for this study. May there be many more like it. I'm sensitive to loud and raucous sounds. Sitting in the ObGyn office with little children running around drives me crazy, as does being subjected to booming bass sounds coming from huge amps installed in cars of young men. Also, I don't know if this counts, but I can easily hear my heart beating when things are quiet. This I can do without touching any part of my body, but just listening. So, if I need to take my pulse, I just listen. -Pearl S.
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Posted by: beautygirl60
Mar 6, 2008
Thank you. I had a MRI and nobody warned me about the sound. It was so bad I felt like I had a brain concussion. I was so disoriented when they were through the girl had to get my jacket and walk me out to my husdand. I came home and slept all afternoon. It took a couple of days to get over. I'm glad somebody is finding this out.


Posted by: beautygirl60
Mar 6, 2008
I'm 61 years old and have dealt with fibromyalgia since I was in my 20's. We moved to Virgina abot 3 years ago and all of a sudden my pain went balistic. I started into muscles spasims thatstarted in my feet and traveled up through my body into my throat which terrified me. I also have all the symptoms of neuropathy, but I don't have it. I'm very sensistive to smells and sounds. The last 3 years I worked full time, but my fibromyalgia and symptoms got so bad I had no life but eat, sleep, work. Finally about in October I noticed I was getting worse. I had chest pains that were so similar to a heat attack they hopitalized me over night and concluded I had gastritis.My stomach doesn't empty all the way and I have irritable bowel and bladder. My diaphram became inflamed and I was having trouble breathing. I went out on medical leave and was a vegetable for 3 months. But I kept fighting by trying to work my mind and whenever I could do something around the house. Now I have a 3 to 4 hour window before the pain gets bad. I wake up every morning and take 2 ultram 50mg. Then at night I take neurontin, flexeril, flouxetine, trazadone, oh and prilosec. I applied for social security disabilty and was turn down after a month because they said I didn't have enough proof and I had work this last year. Go figure. I wish there was a test to prove we have it.
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Re: Fibro
Posted by: su554
Mar 6, 2008
I hear you beautigirl! If only there was some definative test of proof! I have eaten tramadol like candy along with acitaminophen. Just a little exercise makes me feel like my limbs are made of lead, and all I can do is go lie down. I haven't worked full time since June of last year. I know I couldn't make it through an 8 hr. day! It is sooo hard to tell my friends and family how it feels. They think I look fine so I should be at work! They think filing for ssi is a copout! anyway, sry about whining! Just wanted to say "Hey, we're not alone!" Keep a good thought!


Sensory disorder
Posted by: Svette_Palme
Apr 18, 2008
YES!!! I am very happy to see this article, because it is exactly what I have come to see about my own Fibro pains, my brain, and things like learning disorders. They are all related to the way the brain processes the various signals and sensory inputs. Basically, it is as if they are all amplified. That would mean that pains might be amplified too. After all, what is pain? It is only real in the brain - your leg can be crushed but you would not feel any pain at all unless your brain is working. Well, ya, duh, but I hope you get what I mean there. Therefore, the pains we Fibros feel is not imagined, and there is no way for us to just "get tough and ignore it". We just feel much more pain than normal people do... we have pains from situations that most people only feel a mild sensation to. It is not our fault in any way. Related to these pains are things like learning disorders where reading or listening to a lecture can overwhelm our senses, and we cannot follow it then. Doesn't that make a lot of sense? Do you other Fibro's also have trouble with handwriting, reading, and listening and learning? Please reply!! "Sensory Processing Theory of Fibromyalgia Pain" is a topic I have been working on for a few years now, so it is very heartening to see this article by real scientists. I am not one, nor a doctor - I am a victim of chronic pain who merely wants to understand what had taken my life on this path of pain.
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