The association between experimental and clinical pain measures among persons with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Journal: European Journal of Pain, Volume 11, Issue 2, February 2007, pp. 202-207. Authors and affiliations: Michael E. Geisser, Richard H. Gracely, Thorsten Giesecke, Frank W. Petzke, David A. Williams, Daniel J. Clauw. Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA (Geisser, Gracely, Williams, Clauw); Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA (Geisser); Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany (Giesecke, Petzke). [E-mail: ]

Evoked or experimental pain is often used as a model for the study of clinical pain, yet there are little data regarding the relationship between the two. In addition, there are few data regarding the types of stimuli and stimulus intensities that are most closely related to clinical pain.

In this study, 36 subjects with Fibromyalgia (FM), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), or both syndromes were administered measures of clinical pain and underwent a dolorimetry [measurement of pain sensitivity/intensity] evaluation. Subjects also underwent experimental pain testing utilizing heat and pressure stimulation. Stimulation levels evoking low, moderate and high sensory intensity, and comparable levels of unpleasantness, were determined for both types of stimuli using random staircase methods. Clinical pain was assessed using visual analogue ratings and the short form of the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ).

Ratings of heat pain sensation were not significantly associated with clinical pain ratings, with the exception of unpleasantness ratings at high stimulus intensities. Pain threshold and tolerance as assessed by dolorimetry were significantly associated with average measures of clinical pain. Both intensity and unpleasantness ratings of pressure delivered using random staircase methods were significantly associated with clinical pain at low, moderate and high levels, and the strength of the association was greater at increasingly noxious stimulus intensities.

These findings suggest that random pressure stimulation as an experimental pain model in these populations more closely reflects the clinical pain for these conditions. These findings merit consideration when designing experimental studies of clinical pain associated with FM and CFS.

Keywords: Fibromyalgia; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; chronic pain; experimental pain

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