Resting Brain Linked to Fibromyalgia Pain

BOSTON, July 31 (UPI) — Boston researchers say they have linked resting-state brain connectivity and spontaneous pain intensity in patients with fibromyalgia.

Vitaly Napadow of Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues at the University of Michigan enrolled 36 female subjects –18 fibromyalgia patients — mean age of 38.9 — and 18 healthy subjects as controls with a mean age of 36.1.


The fibromyalgia study subjects had been diagnosed for at least one year, reported pain for more than 50 percent of each day, and were willing to limit introduction of new medications or treatment strategies to control symptoms.

In addition to widespread pain, fibromyalgia patients report symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, memory problems and temperature sensitivity.

As a part of the study, 6 minutes of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data were collected from study subjects and analyzed.

Prior to the MRI scan, participants were asked to rate the intensity of their fibromyalgia pain on a scale of 0-10 — 0 being equivalent to no pain and 10 the worst pain ever. The study, published in the August issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, found pain scores ranged from 0 to 8.1.

“Our results clearly show that individuals with fibromyalgia have greater connectivity between multiple brain networks and the insular cortex, which is a brain region previously linked with evoked pain processing and hyperexcitability in fibromyalgia,” Napadow said in a statement.

The findings indicate pain arises from a complex interplay among multiple brain networks.

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