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The relationship between fibromyalgia and interstitial cystitis.

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By Clauw DJ, Schmidt M, Radulovic D, Singer A, Katz P, Bresette J. • • February 1, 1999

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a relatively uncommon and enigmatic disorder characterized by pain in the bladder and pelvic region, typically accompanied by urinary urgency and frequency. Fibromyalgia is a more common disorder, with the prominent symptoms being diffuse musculoskeletal pain and fatigue, and it has been well established that there is substantial clinical overlap between fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Although genitourinary and musculoskeletal symptoms predominate in IC and fibromyalgia respectively, both disorders share a number of features, including similar demographics, "allied conditions" (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, etc.), natural history, aggravating factors, and efficacious therapy. We hypothesized that there was substantial clinical overlap between fibromyalgia and IC, and examined cohorts of individuals with these two disorders in parallel, to compare the spectrum of symptomatology. Sixty fibromyalgia patients, 30 IC patients, and 30 age-matched healthy controls were questioned regarding current symptomatology. A dolorimeter examination was also performed in the three groups to assess peripheral nociception. We found that the frequency of current symptoms was very similar for the fibromyalgia and IC groups. Both the fibromyalgia and IC patients displayed increased pain sensitivity when compared to healthy individuals, at both tender and control points. These data suggest that IC and fibromyalgia have significant overlap in symptomatology, and that IC patients display diffusely increased peripheral nociception, as is seen in fibromyalgia. Although central mechanisms have been suspected to contribute to the pathogenesis of fibromyalgia for some time, we speculate that these same types of mechanisms may be operative in IC, which has traditionally been felt to be a bladder disorder.

J Psychiatr Res 1997 Jan-Feb;31(1):125-31.
Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, D.C., USA.

PMID: 9201654, UI: 97345287

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