(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Fibromyalgia patients may finally have some
answers as to what causes their disease.
Researchers in France used single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)
to detect functional abnormalities in certain regions in the brains of
patients with fibromyalgia. This reinforces the idea that symptoms of the
disorder are related to a dysfunction in the areas of the brain where pain
“Fibromyalgia is frequently considered an ‘invisible syndrome’ since
musculoskeletal imaging is negative,” lead author Eric Guedj, M.D., was
quoted as saying. “Past imaging studies of patients with the syndrome,
however, have shown above-normal cerebral blood flow (brain perfusion) in
some areas of the brain and below-normal in other areas. After performing
whole-brain scans on the participants, we used a statistical analysis to
study the relationship between functional activity in even the smallest area
of the brain and various parameters related to pain, disability and
The study looked at 20 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia and 10 healthy
women. Participants answered questions as to their level of pain,
disability, anxiety and depression as well as had a SPECT screening.
Results show fibromyalgia patients had brain perfusion abnormalities
compared to the healthy women, and these abnormalities were directly
correlated with the severity of the disease. An increase in perfusion was
found in that region of the brain known to recognize pain intensity, and a
decrease was found within those areas thought to be involved in emotional
responses to pain.
Fibromyalgia patients have widespread muscle pain, fatigue and multiple
tender points in specific places including the neck, shoulders, back, and
hips. It is one of the leading causes of musculoskeletal pain and
disability, affecting three to six million Americans - between 80 and 90
percent of those diagnosed is women.
SOURCE: Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 2008