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Central sensitisation pain and autonomic deficiencies in fibromyalgia

1, 2, 3


  1. Department of Psychology, University of Jaén, Spain.
  2. Department of Psychology, University of Jaén, Spain.
  3. Department of Psychology, University of Jaén, Spain.

2022 Vol.40, N°6
PI 1202, PF 1209
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PMID: 35748717 [PubMed]

Received: 17/02/2022
Accepted : 06/05/2022
In Press: 23/06/2022
Published: 23/06/2022


Fibromyalgia (FM) is associated with central pain sensitisation, autonomic alterations and neuropathy in small nerve fibres. This study aimed to analyse the association between tonic sweating and central pain sensitisation in FM.
Fifty-eight FM patients and thirty healthy women were assessed in terms of slowly repeated evoked pain (SREP), as a measure of central sensitisation. Sweating was evaluated by skin conductance (SC), as a sympathetic autonomic measure secondarily indexing possible small nerve fibre peripheral neuropathy. Clinical and psychological factors were evaluated through questionnaire measures.
FM patients displayed smaller SC values than healthy controls, and SREP sensitisation was only observed in FM patients. Pain threshold and tolerance were also lower in the patient sample. Clinical symptoms (pain, fatigue, insomnia) only correlated significantly with SREP sensitisation. SC was inversely related to SREP sensitisation, and this association persisted after statistically controlling for levels of catastrophising and antidepressant use.
These results suggest that central pain sensitisation, proposed as a main pathophysiological mechanism of FM, may depend on sympathetic autonomic deficiencies, suggestive of small nerve fibres neuropathy. Future studies should aim to replicate these results using other central pain sensitisation measures and direct measures of neuropathy or small nerve fibre density.


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