Brain Scans Show Fibromyalgia Patients Process Pain Differently

New study results on how people living with fibro process pain:

Brain scans reveal that people with fibromyalgia are not as able to prepare for pain as healthy people, and they are less likely to respond to the promise of pain relief.

This altered brain processing could explain why people with the mysterious chronic ailment feel pain more intensely and don’t respond as well to narcotic painkillers, the researchers said. Their findings are published in the Nov. 5 issue of the journalArthritis & Rheumatism.

People without fibromyalgia can mentally alleviate some types of pain that people experience, explained Dr. Lynn Webster, president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. “For people with fibromyalgia, that capability seems to be dampened if not eliminated,” Webster said. “They may not be able to respond the same way to medications or our intrinsic [natural] mechanisms for dealing with pain.”

No one knows what causes fibromyalgia, which involves widespread joint and muscle pain. The disorder affects 3.4 percent of women and 0.5 percent of men in the United States, according to the study. Older women are most likely to suffer from fibromyalgia, which affects more than 7 percent of women aged 60 to 79.

Read the full article at WebMD.

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