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Subtle Changes Of Gray Matter Volume In Fibromyalgia Reflect Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Rather Than Disease‐Specific Effects

Wednesday 28 August 2019


From the European Journal of Neuroscience:



Subtle changes of gray matter volume in fibromyalgia reflect chronic musculoskeletal pain rather than disease‐specific effects

B. Sundermann
M. Dehghan Nayyeri
B. Pfleiderer
K. Stahlberg
L. Jünke
L. Baie
R. Dieckmann
D. Liem
T. Happe
M. Burgmer

First published: 26 August 2019 |

This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record. Please cite this article as doi:10.1111/ejn.14558.

Copyright © 1999-2019 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.


Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic pain syndrome.

Neuroimaging studies provided evidence of altered gray matter volume (GMV) in FMS but, similarly, in chronic pain of other origin as well.

Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the disease specificity of GMV alterations in FMS by direct comparison.

Structural MRI data of the brain were acquired in 25 females with FMS and two different control groups: 21 healthy subjects and 23 patients with osteoarthritis.

Regional GMVs were compared by voxel‐based morphometry and additional ROI‐analyses.

In conclusion we did not identify significant GMV alterations in either FMS or OA patients compared to healthy controls when adopting a conservative statistical approach with multiple comparison correction.

However, even under a more liberal approach no FMS‐specific GMV changes were found because both pain groups presented increased gray matter volumes in the precentral gyrus and decreased GMV in the angular gyrus/middle occipital gyrus and middle temporal gyrus in comparison to healthy controls.

Since no differences between both pain groups could be detected cortical GMV changes in FMS should not be interpreted as FMS‐specific but might rather reflect changes in chronic pain in general.

This previously held notion is confirmed in this study by direct comparison with a control group consisting of another pain disorder.


Full article…


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