Differences in unpleasantness induced by experimental pressure pain between patients with fibromyalgia and healthy controls

Authors

  • Frank Petzke,

    1. Department of Anesthesiology of the University of Cologne, Germany
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  • Richard E. Harris,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Michigan, 3918 Taubman Center, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109–0358, USA
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  • David A. Williams,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Michigan, 3918 Taubman Center, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109–0358, USA
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  • Daniel J. Clauw,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Michigan, 3918 Taubman Center, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109–0358, USA
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  • Richard H. Gracely

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Michigan, 3918 Taubman Center, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109–0358, USA
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Tel.: +1 734 763 7518; fax: +1 734 615 0611; rgracely@med.umich.edu

Abstract

Pain possesses both sensory and affective dimensions, which are highly correlated yet distinct. Comparison of these dimensions within experimental pain settings has resulted in the construct of relative unpleasantness. Relative unpleasantness is defined as the amount of affective unpleasantness elicited for a given sensory magnitude. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between affective and sensory components of evoked pain in subjects with fibromyalgia (FM) and healthy controls. Here we show that patients with FM unexpectedly display less relative unpleasantness than healthy controls in response to random noxious pressure stimuli. Relative unpleasantness was not correlated with distress, anxiety, or depression, which were pronounced in the FM group. Clinical pain in patients with FM was perceived to be more unpleasant than the evoked pain stimuli. These results are consistent with the concept that chronic pain may reduce the relative unpleasantness of evoked pain sensations.

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