THURSDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Fibromyalgia patients have more "connectivity" between brain networks and regions of the brain involved in pain processing, which may help explain why sufferers feel pain even when there is no obvious cause, a new study suggests.
Researchers had 18 women with fibromyalgia undergo six-minute fMRI brain scans, and compared their results to women without the condition.
Participants were asked to rate the intensity of the pain they were feeling at the time of the test. Some people reported feeling little pain, while others reported feeling more intense pain.
Brain scans showed the connectivity, or neural activity, between certain brain networks and the insular cortex, a region of the brain involved in pain processing, was heightened in women with fibromyalgia compared to those without the condition.
The connectivity to the insular cortex was even stronger in participants who reported feeling more intense pain compared to milder pain, said study author Vitaly Napadow, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"We took advantage of the fact that there is a large discrepancy in the amount of pain patients happen to be in at the time they come in. Unfortunately some patients come in, and they are in a lot of pain. Other patients come in and they are not in pain," Napadow said.
The study, by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Michigan, is published in the August issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that's characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, insomnia, and the presence of multiple tender points. The syndrome can also cause psychological issues, including anxiety, depression and memory and concentration problems, sometimes called the "fibromyalgia fog."
Prior research has shown that people with fibromyalgia feel a given am
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