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Prevalence and impact of posttraumatic stress disorder-like symptoms on patients with fibromyalgia s

15 Aug
Prevalence and impact of posttraumatic stress disorder-like symptoms on patients with fibromyalgia syndrome.
A group of researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle evaluated 93 consecutive fibromyalgia patients for symptoms of persistent posttraumatic stress. They found that 56% of the sample reported clinically significant levels of PTSD symptoms.

The FM patients with posttraumatic stress symptoms reported greater levels of pain, emotional distress and functional disability than those without PTSD.

Citation: Sherman, Jeffrey J; Turk, Dennis C; Okifuji, Akiko. Prevalence and impact of posttraumatic stress disorder-like symptoms on patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. Clinical Journal of Pain (ISSN: 0749-8047), v. 16, no. 2, pp. 127-134 (June 2000).

These findings are similar to another study at the University of Alabama, where 75 fibromyalgia patients were assessed for history of sexual and physical abuse. In this sample, 57% of the fibromyalgia patients reported past abuse. Those FM patients with a history of abuse reported greater pain, fatigue, functional impairment and stress than the non-abused FM patients.

Popular hypotheses suggest that the low levels of cortisol found in chronic PTSD sufferers, and general dysregulation on the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis might promote an increased vulnerability for developing stress-related bodily disorders. Others suggest that stress might elevate levels of nitrous oxide in the tissue, creating a vicious cycle of persistent pain.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award