Blood pressure-related pain modulation in fibromyalgia: Differentiating between static versus dynamic pain indicators

Int J Psychophysiol. 2018 Dec;134:79-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2018.10.006. Epub 2018 Oct 12.


Introduction: Resting blood pressure (BP) has been found to be inversely associated with evoked pain responsiveness in healthy populations. However, some reports suggest that BP-related pain modulation may be dysfunctional in chronic pain patients. This study examined whether BP-related pain modulation, indexed by both static and dynamic evoked pain responses, is altered in fibromyalgia (FM) patients compared to pain-free individuals.

Method: Pain threshold and tolerance as static evoked pain measures and slowly repeated evoked pain (SREP) as a dynamic evoked pain index were measured in 30 FM patients and 27 healthy controls. BP was continuously recorded throughout a 5 minute pre-pain rest period.

Results: SREP sensitization was observed only in the FM group. Higher BP predicted elevated pain threshold and tolerance in healthy individuals, but not in FM. Conversely, BP was inversely associated with SREP sensitization in FM whereas no association was found in healthy controls.

Conclusions: Static evoked pain measures suggested BP-related pain inhibitory dysfunction in FM. In contrast, for pain sensitization as indexed by SREP, FM displayed the expected BP-related inhibitory effects. BP-related pain modulation is manifested in FM differentially for static versus dynamic pain indicators. Use of both types of evoked pain measures may be valuable in the study of mechanisms underlying altered pain modulatory systems in FM.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Central sensitization; Fibromyalgia; Hypoalgesia; Pain measurement; Pain modulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System Sensitization / physiology*
  • Chronic Pain / etiology
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / complications
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Perception / physiology*
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*