The relationship between fibromyalgia (FM) & interstitial cystitis

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

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.

MCM: From 1994 AACFS meeting in Ft. Lauderdale

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