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Abstract

Background

Patients with musculoskeletal pain syndrome including fibromyalgia (FM) complain of chronic pain from deep tissues including muscles. Previous research suggests the relevance of impulse input from deep tissues for clinical FM pain. We hypothesized that blocking abnormal impulse input with intramuscular lidocaine would decrease primary and secondary hyperalgesia and FM patients' clinical pain.

Methods

We enrolled 62 female patients with FM into a double-blind controlled study of three groups who received 100 or 200 mg of lidocaine or saline injections into both trapezius and gluteal muscles. Study variables included pressure and heat hyperalgesia as well as clinical pain. In addition, placebo factors like patients' anxiety and expectation for pain relief were used as predictors of analgesia.

Results

Primary mechanical hyperalgesia at the shoulders and buttocks decreased significantly more after lidocaine than saline injections (p = 0.004). Similar results were obtained for secondary heat hyperalgesia at the arms (p = 0.04). After muscle injections, clinical FM pain significantly declined by 38% but was not statistically different between lidocaine and saline conditions. Placebo-related analgesic factors (e.g., patients' expectations of pain relief) accounted for 19.9% of the variance of clinical pain after the injections. Injection-related anxiety did not significantly contribute to patient analgesia.

Conclusion

These results suggest that muscle injections can reliably reduce clinical FM pain, and that peripheral impulse input is required for the maintenance of mechanical and heat hyperalgesia of patients with FM. Whereas the effects of muscle injections on hyperalgesia were greater for lidocaine than saline, the effects on clinical pain were similar for both injectates.