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Pain in Fibromyalgia Patients Tied to Altered Brain Functions

Last Updated: August 04, 2010.

In people with fibromyalgia, there appears to be an association between resting brain activity in multiple brain networks and spontaneous clinical pain, according to research published in the August issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- In people with fibromyalgia, there appears to be an association between resting brain activity in multiple brain networks and spontaneous clinical pain, according to research published in the August issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Vitaly Napadow, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Charlestown, and colleagues analyzed resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) data from 18 fibromyalgia patients and 18 age-matched controls to investigate degrees of connectivity between multiple brain networks and how that activity correlates with levels of spontaneous pain in fibromyalgia patients.

In fibromyalgia patients, the researchers found greater connectivity within the default mode network (DMN) and right executive attention (EAN) networks as well as more connectivity between the DMN and the insular cortex, an area known to process evoked pain. Higher intensity of spontaneous pain during the FMRI scan also correlated with a greater degree of intrinsic connectivity between both the DMN and right EAN and the insula.

"These findings indicate that resting brain activity within multiple networks is associated with spontaneous clinical pain in patients with fibromyalgia. These findings may also have broader implications for how subjective experiences such as pain arise from a complex interplay among multiple brain networks," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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