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NIEUWS ITEMS - Bijscholing brussel 19/09

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Posttraumatic stress disorder is often present in fibromyalgia

German researchers have conducted a large rigorous study examining the presence of posttraumatic stress disorder in patients with fibromyalgia.
They studied 295 fibromyalgia patients from 8 different centers, and found that posttraumatic stress disorder was present in 45% of all fibromyalgia patients, compared to only 3% in the healthy control group. These are very high numbers for the fibromyalgia group.
Other compelling findings of the study are that in the majority of cases (66%), the traumatic event and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms preceded the onset of fibromyalgia. The reverse was true for about 30% (i.e. fibromyalgia preceded the traumatic event and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms). These data suggest that a traumatic event and subsequent posttraumatic stress disorder might lead to the development of fibromyalgia. At least for a subgroup of the fibromyalgia population, a traumatic event can be viewed as an etiologic factor.

These data are in line with the stress-adaption model by Boudewijn Van Houdenhove as recently highlighted on the Pain in Motion website. Post-traumatic stress disorder is often seen as a purely psychological problem, but this is untrue. Post-traumatic stress disorder is characterized by brain alterations. For instance, exposure to stress can regulate / change the way brain cells communicate with one another http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23727506. This often implies that the brain becomes hyperexcitable to stress and various other stimuli (including bright light).

Jo Nijs

Source: Häuser W, Galek A, Erbslöh-Möller B, Köllner V, Kühn-Becker H, Langhorst J, Petermann F, Prothmann U, Winkelmann A, Schmutzer G, Brähler E, Glaesmer H. Pain. 2013;154(8):1216-23.

Further reading: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23685006