A pain control mechanism may be faulty in people with fibromyalgia according to researchers at the University of Quebec, who are investigating the DNIC (diffuse noxious inhibitory control system) in those who suffer from FM.
The DNIC’s role is to restrain potentially painful signals that enter the spinal cord in route to the brain and relies heavily on serotonin and norepinephrine in order to work. Low levels of serotonin and noepinephrine have been found in FM sufferers.
In the study, the DNIC’s effectiveness in minimizing pain was tested in a small group of FM patients and healthy controls. Patient’s fingertips were submerged into uncomfortably hot or cold water. Researchers then worked up the arm in eight steps until the whole arm underwent the submersion process.
The control group reported that they did not feel much of a difference between a hand submersed and the entire arm submersed. However, FM patients reported that the more surface area that was exposed, the more pain they experienced.
Additional studies are planned to determine if Effexor-XR, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that boosts both serotonin and noepinephrine levels, can improve the action of the DNIC system in FM sufferers.