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The Pain from Fibromyalgia Is Real, Researchers Say

Center and professor of rheumatology at the U-M Medical School, and an author of the new paper. “These studies indicate that fibromyalgia patients have abnormalities within their central brain structures.”

In a 2003 paper in the journal Science, a U-M team reported that a small variation in the gene that encodes the enzyme called catechol-O-methyl transferase, or COMT, made a significant difference in the pain tolerance, and pain-related emotions and feelings, of healthy volunteers. Researchers also have found that individual mutations in the COMT gene are related to the future development of temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMD or TMJ, a condition related to fibromyalgia.

Together, these studies about COMT and numerous studies with animals suggest that pain sensitivity is determined at least in part by a person’s genetic makeup, Clauw says.

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