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Abnormal functional activity of the central nervous system in fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome

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By Mountz JM, Bradley LA, Alarcon GS • www.ProHealth.com • June 15, 1998


The evaluation of pain is one of the major problems facing
general practitioners and specialists in medicine. Although
the source of pain can be usually be traced to specific
abnormalities in a given organ system, some patients present
with generalized pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia, for
which no specific source can be found. Some researchers have
begun to consider that although there may be a somatic source
of such pain at its initiation, over time the pain may be
maintained or exacerbated by functional alterations in
critical regions of the brain and spinal cord that are
involved in pain processing or pain inhibition. This article
describes the techniques currently used to measure regional
cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the brain by single photon
emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging, and reviews the
SPECT and positron emission tomography literature concerning
alterations in functional brain activity associated with pain
in healthy individuals and in patients with chronic pain,
including those with fibromyalgia. The article concludes by
describing the implications of current knowledge about pain
and abnormal functional brain activity in the understanding of
the pathophysiology of fibromyalgia and in the development of
therapeutic strategies to manage patients with this disorder.




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