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Background. Recently, it has been proposed that fibromyalgia (FM), a chronic widespread pain syndrome, results from overactive endogenous excitatory pain mechanisms. Experimental studies using temporal summation paradigms have confirmed this hypothesis but have included small samples of patients, prompting our group to perform a large-scale study. Methods. Seventy-two female FM patients and 39 healthy females participated in the study. The temporal summation test consisted of a 2-minute continuous and constant heat pulse administered with a thermode on the participants' left forearm. Experimental temperature was set at a value individually predetermined to induce a 50/100 pain rating. Results. Relative to controls, FM patients had lower thermal pain thresholds and lower temporal summation of pain. However, 37 FM patients required experimental temperatures lower than the minimal temperature used in controls (45°C). Nevertheless, temporal summation was not increased in the other FM subgroup, relative to controls, despite equivalent experimental temperatures. Discussion. Our results suggest that temporal summation of pain is normal, rather than increased, in a large proportion of FM patients. Future studies on temporal summation in FM will need to be careful since some FM patients require abnormally low experimental temperatures that may confound results and make necessary to separate patients into subgroups.


Stéphane Potvin, Emilie Paul-Savoie, Mélanie Morin, Patricia Bourgault, Serge Marchand. Temporal summation of pain is not amplified in a large proportion of fibromyalgia patients. Pain research and treatment. 2012;2012:938595

PMID: 22701791

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