Non-painful event hypersensitivity can be part of Fibromyalgia Pathology

Non-painful event hypersensitivity can be part of Fibromyalgia Pathology

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, widespread musculoskeletal syndrome that affects approximately 2% of the population worldwide, experts say. The ACR reports that fibromyalgia is more prevalent among women in 5 million people in the U.S.

In previous trials patients with fibromyalgia report decreased tolerance for normal sense stimulation (auditory, visual, olfactory and tactile), as well as increased pain sensitivity. I print this study because the understanding of fibromyalgia is pretty fundamental. When there’s not supposed to be pain, we feel pain. It is especially interesting to look at the areas of the brain, however, which are activated.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) imaging of the brain

 Fibromyalgia pain dysfunction involves an increased sensitivity to pain known as hyperalgesia. A recent study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) shows that people with fibromyalgia have hypersensitivity even if events are non-painful based on Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) imaging of the brain.

The brain imaging reveals reduced activation in primary sensory regions and increased activation in sensory integration regions. These responses to non-painful stimulus may be the cause of problems with tactile, visual and auditory stimulation. Patients often do report reduced tolerance to environmental and sensory stimulus in addition to the pain.

Decrease activation of the visual and auditive areas, both primary and secondary.

In this study, 35 females with fibromyalgia and 25 healthy, aging-matched controls were tested by researchers using functional-magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The average duration of illness was 7 years and average age was 47 years.

According to the study, in response to multisensory stimulation during daily activities, patients reported increased unpleasantness. In addition, fMRI was shown in areas of primary, secondary and auditory visual activation and sensory integration activation, both of which had a reduced activation. These brain abnormalities mediated increased discomfort in visual, auditory and tactile stimulation reported in daily life by patients.


The study found that brain reactions to non-painful events in early sensory cortices were highly attenuated, and an amplified reaction at later stages of sensory inclusion in the insula was presented, and these abnormalities were linked to the major FM symptoms, which might indicate that this is linked to syndrome pathology.

“Our study provides new evidence that fibromyalgia patients ‘ visualization has altered central processing to multisensory stimulation, which is linked to key symptoms of fibromyalgia and can be part of the disease pathology.” Dr Marina López-Solà, University Colorado Boulder said. The finding of reduced cortical activation in patients ‘ visual and auditory brain fields may offer new targets for neurostimulation therapy in patients living with fibromyalgia.


In 35 women with FM and 25 matched controls, brain reaction to auditory, visual and tactile stimulation has been evaluated by functioning magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Correlations between brain responses and three types of outcomes were investigated to determine the relationship: subjective hyper-sensitivity to daily sensory stimulation, spontaneous pain, and functional disability.

Hypersensitive responses to external stimuli

In various physical and biological systems, hypersensitive responses to external stimuli have been widely observed as shown in FM patients, such as power-grid failures, abrupt electronic circuit and chemical / mechanical state transitions, epileptic breakdowns in the brain, and sensitive cochlea detection in frequency.

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Explosive synchronization

The underlying mechanism for abrupt transition of state within such systems has been a network property called “explosive synchronization” (EN) that is described as a discontinuous transition from an incoherent state into a synchronized state. A disruption spreads rapidly across the entire network through synchronization in a network which shows ES condition(s).

Our past work suggests that ES conditions in normal human brains do not exist. We assumed that ES could be a mechanism for FM hypersensitivity, with the expected outcome of increasing network sensitivity and chronic pain in patients with enhanced ES.

EEG network configurations

To test this hypothesis, the EEG resting state network configuration of 10 FM patients were first analyzed and the correlation between ES intensity and chronic pain intensity was determined whether the FM brain network displayed ES characteristics (not found in normal humans).

We looked into positive correlations in the degree of frequency, wide frequency differences, and high-frequency dis-assortment among the network connected nodes (a tendency for higher frequency nodes to connect to lower frequency nodes, or vice versa).

These are typical conditions of the network that show that progressive syncing is deleted and suddenly global synchronization around a key point is triggered. Secondly, in response to stimulation, we tested if those ES conditions generate hypersensitive network features.

The sensitivity of this network was quantitatively compared with the frequency disruption in human brain nets with ES and non-ES conditions. The model and empirical data analysis shows that ES can be a network hypersensitivity mechanism.

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Source: Arthritis & Rheumatology, September 15, 2014. By Marina López-Solà, Jesus Pujol, Tor D. Wager, Alba Garcia-Fontanals, Laura Blanco-Hinojo, Susana Garcia-Blanco, Violant Poca-Dias, Ben J. Harrison, Oren Contreras-Rodríguez, Jordi Monfort, Ferran Garcia-Fructuoso and Joan Deus. Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Muenzinger D158, 345 UCB, Boulder, Colorado, 80309-0345. E-mail:

Reference: Hypersensitivity To Non-Painful Events May Be Part Of Pathology In Fibromyalgia via ProHealth


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