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
This often implies that the brain becomes hyperexcitable to stress and various other stimuli (including bright light).
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.