My fibromyalgia comments:
Another fibromyalgia article below by Reuters that once again shows that fibromyalgia
is physiological, and NOT psychological as the uniformed doctor would have you believe.
Brain scans show pain sensitivity in fibromyalgia
By Melissa Schorr SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 15 (Reuters Health) - Brain scans have revealed
that women with the chronic condition fibromyalgia differ from women with depression
in their sensitivity to pain, researchers reported here Wednesday at the American
College of Rheumatology's annual meeting. Fibromyalgia, a condition that affects 2%
of Americans, usually women, causes muscle pain, stiffness and fatigue. The cause is
unknown. Because nearly half of fibromyalgia patients have suffered clinical depression
at some point in their lives, some doctors consider the condition to be a physical
manifestation of an underlying mood disorder like depression, said Dr. Leanne R. Cianfrini,
a psychology researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Because fibromyalgia
doesn't have a clear-cut etiology (or cause), it leads many rheumatologists to interpret
their pain as a simple physical manifestation of an underlying depression," she said.
"This can be frustrating and counterproductive to patients." To clarify whether there
were physiological differences between patients with fibromyalgia and patients with
depression, the investigators compared pain thresholds and brain activity among 21 women
with fibromyalgia, 8 women with depression and 22 healthy women. Cianfrini and colleagues
administered pressure calculated to be a level above each woman's pain threshold to three
points on the women's bodies. The women were asked to evaluate their pain levels. The
researchers also used a brain-imaging scan to measure each woman's brain blood flow while
she experienced pain. The investigators found that the women with fibromyalgia had lower
pain thresholds and reported more pain after pressure stimulation than the healthy women.
The fibromyalgia patients also showed greater activation of brain structures that process
pain after relatively low levels of pressure. The pain threshold and experience of pain
among the depressed women was similar to that of the healthy women, the study found. "We
can't deny depression is associated with fibromyalgia, and it may exacerbate it," Cianfrini
said. "But depression does not seem to be a necessary factor." She advised fibromyalgia
patients whose doctors seem resistant to treat them to tell them about her findings. "The
pain is not due to depression and if they treat depression, your pain may not necessarily
go away," she said. "Patients should say, 'Let's treat my pain, because it's real.'" In a
similar study, Dr. Richard H. Gracely, a research psychologist at the National Institutes
of Health, presented findings on how the brains of fibromyalgia patients react to pain.
Gracely and colleagues used a brain scan technique called fMRI to compare fibromyalgia
patients with healthy patients experiencing pain. The research team found that patients
with fibromyalgia who were given relatively low levels of pressure seemed to experience
the same amount of pain and subsequent brain activity as healthy people experiencing high
levels of induced pain. "One of the big issues of pain patients is credibility--they don't
have the luxury of physical signs, nobody believes they have what they say," Gracely said.
"Fibromyalgia patients particularly had it that way because even rheumatologists didn't
believe it was necessarily pain." However, these findings provide physical evidence to
confirm what patients report, he added. "Brain imaging is a way to show there is something
physical that matches with what they're saying," Gracely said. "It's welcome news to people
who have this."
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