Trauma and fibromyalgia: is there an association and what does it mean?


OBJECTIVES The primary objective is to review current research with respect to the role of trauma in fibromyalgia (FM). A secondary objective is to hypothesize which steps need to be taken, first to determine whether such an association truly exists, and second to clarify what such an association might mean. METHODS An extensive literature review was undertaken, including Medline from 1979 to the present. RESULTS The strongest evidence supporting an association between trauma and FM is a recently published Israeli study in which adults with neck injuries had greater than a 10-fold increased risk of developing FM within 1 year of their injury, compared with adults with lower extremity fractures (P= .001). Several other studies provide a hypothetical construct for such an association. These include studies on (1) postinjury sleep abnormalities; (2) local injury sites as a source of chronic distant regional pain; and (3) the concept of neuroplasticity. There are, however, several primary arguments against such an association: (1) FM may not be a distinct clinical entity; (2) FM may be a psychological, rather than physical, disease; (3) the evidence supporting any association is limited and not definitive; (4) the Israeli study, itself, has some methodological limitations; and (5) other factors may be more important than the injurious event in determining chronic symptoms after an acute injury. CONCLUSIONS Although there is some evidence supporting an association between trauma and FM, the evidence is not definitive. Further prospective studies are needed to confirm this association and to identify whether trauma has a causal role.


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