Fibromyalgia patients also show increased sensitivity to mild stimuli
The hypersensitivity of patients with fibromyalgia does not appear to be limited to painful stimuli but also to other stimuli such as sound, as reported in a study.
A chronic widespread pain syndrome, fibromyalgia is characterized by hypersensitivity to nociceptive stimuli. This increased sensitivity has been linked to central sensitization of dorsal horn neurons.
The current study examined whether the mechanisms of hypersensitivity in fibromyalgia also affected light, smell, and sound.
A total of 23 fibromyalgia patients and 28 healthy controls underwent tests for sensory augmentation of nociceptive and non-nociceptive sensations. Sensitivity adjusted mechanical and heat ramp and hold stimuli were used to assess nociceptive augmentation, while wideband noise stimuli using a random-staircase design was applied to evaluate sound sensitivity augmentation.
Results of quantitative sensory testing showed heightened heat and mechanical pain sensitivity in fibromyalgia patients (p<0.001).
Interestingly, the sound pressures needed to report mild, moderate, and intense sound levels were much lower in fibromyalgia patients than in controls (p<0.001), indicating augmented auditory sensitivity.
The present data highlight that fibromyalgia patients are not only augmenting noxious sensations but also sound. This suggests that augmentation mechanisms in this population are not only activated in the spinal cord but also in the brain.
More studies are needed to establish whether the central nervous system mechanisms for auditory and nociceptive augmentation are similar.