Imaging Pain of Fibromyalgia

Journal: Current Pain and Headache Reports. June 2007. Volume 11, Issue 3. pp. 190-200

Authors and affiliations: Cook DB, Stegner, AJ, McLoughlin, MJ. William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, WI 53706; Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. [E-mail: ]

Brain imaging studies have provided objective evidence of abnormal central regulation of pain in Fibromyalgia (FM).

Resting brain blood flow studies have reported mixed findings for several brain regions, whereas decreased thalamic blood flow has been noted by several investigators.

Studies examining the function of the nociceptive system in FM have reported augmented brain responses to both painful and non-painful stimuli that may be influenced by psychologic dispositions such as depressed mood and catastrophizing. [Nociceptors are the nerves which sense and respond to parts of the body which suffer from damage.]

Treatment approaches are beginning to demonstrate the potential for brain imaging to improve our understanding of pain-alleviating mechanisms.

Data from other chronic conditions suggest that idiopathic pain [of mysterious origin] may be maintained by similar central abnormalities as in FM, whereas chronic pain conditions with a known nociceptive source may not be.

Future neuroimaging research in FM is clearly warranted and should continue to improve our understanding of factors involved in pain maintenance and symptom exacerbation.

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