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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 May 2020 - 8 May 2020


Human Studies

2020 May 01

Behav Med

Blunted Pain Modulation Response to Induced Stress in Women with Fibromyalgia with and without Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Comorbidity: New Evidence of Hypo-Reactivity to Stress in Fibromyalgia?


López-López A, Matías-Pompa B, Fernández-Carnero J, Gil-Martínez A, Alonso-Fernández M, Alonso Pérez JL, González Gutierrez JL
Behav Med. 2020 May 01:1-13.
PMID: 32356678.


There is evidence regarding the presence of alterations in both the stress response and the endogenous pain modulation systems of people with fibromyalgia (FM). However, research on pain modulation under induced stress on FM patients is scarce and contradictory. The present study analyzes stress-induced changes in pain and intolerance thresholds among FM patients, examining the possible existence of differences linked to PTSD comorbidity and gaining insights into the role of cardiovascular reactivity. Eighteen women diagnosed with FM and comorbid PTSD (FM + PTSD), 18 women diagnosed with FM and no PTSD (FM-PTSD), and 38 healthy women (HC) were exposed to the Social Stress Test task. Pressure pain thresholds and intolerance thresholds were measured before and during stress induction, and after a recovery period, while systolic blood pressure and heart rate were simultaneously recorded. Overall, while pain thresholds decreased during stress and recovery for HC, no significant changes were observed for women with FM. The intolerance threshold decreased for HC during stress, but was maintained at basal level during recovery. FM-PTSD women exhibited a delayed response, with a drop at recovery. For FM + PTSD, tolerance levels remained unchanged. In addition, cardiovascular reactivity did not seem to explain these results. This performance of the pain modulation system seems to follow the same pattern of hypoactive responsiveness under stressors that has previously been observed in FM patients on the autonomic and neuroendocrine axes. Such a hypoactive pattern may involve a non-adaptive response that may contribute to the development and maintenance of chronic pain.