Fibromyalgia, it isn’t Just in Your Head

According to a study published in the June, 2002 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism, the pain of fibromyalgia is real and demonstrable with fMRI (a super fast form of MRI imaging) scans of the brain. The researchers compared the brain scans of fibromyalgia patients to those without the disease.

Sixteen fibromyalgia patients and sixteen control subjects had a small, piston-controlled device apply precisely calibrated, rapidly pulsing pressure to the base of their left thumbnail. The pressures were varied over time, using painful and non-painful levels that had been set for each patient prior to the scan. The subjects had fMRI scans of their brains during this procedure. In the fibromyalgia patients it only took a mild pressure to produce pain, as well as a measurable brain response in areas that process the sensation of pain.  The control subjects tolerated the same pressure with little pain. The scans proved that the pain suffered by these patients is real.

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