Electrochemical Skin Conductance and Quantitative Sensory Testing on Fibromyalgia

Pain Pract. 2020 Apr;20(4):348-356. doi: 10.1111/papr.12857. Epub 2019 Dec 24.


Background: An impairment of the peripheral nervous system has been suggested in fibromyalgia (FM). Noninvasive distal electrochemical skin conductance (ESC) has been studied little so far when combined with quantitative sensory testing (QST) in patients with FM.

Methods: This study (clinicaltrials.gov NCT03347669) included 50 female patients with FM and 50 matched healthy volunteers (HVs). ESC (measured in microsiemens [µS] with Sudoscan), as well as psychological, quality of life, sleep, and social characteristics, were assessed in both groups. In a subgroup of 24 patients with FM and 24 HVs, QST of cold and warm detection and pain thresholds and diffuse noxious inhibitory controls (DNICs) were explored. Statistical analysis was performed for a 2-sided type I error at 5%.

Results: Between patients with FM and HVs, ESC values differed (71.4 ± 11.2 µS vs. 74.4 ± 10.3 µS, respectively; P = 0.003), especially on the dominant hand (P = 0.03), where more patients with FM had ESC values < 66 µS than did HVs (P = 0.046). No difference was observed on feet. In patients with FM, all collected characteristics were impaired (P < 0.001), DNICs were less functional, detection thresholds occurred later, and pain thresholds occurred earlier. No correlation was observed between ESC and DNICs or with any parameter.

Conclusion: This study shows that the sudomotor function is significantly impaired in patients with FM, especially on the dominant hand. This occurs in parallel with adjustments of detection and pain thresholds in the context of deficient spinal pain modulation. ESC values combined with QST values are relevant in the context of patients with FM and need to be explored further in this nociception-autonomic system intertwining.

Keywords: Sudoscan; fibromyalgia; neuropathy; small nerve fibers; sweat glands.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology*
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Threshold / physiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Sweat Glands / physiopathology*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03347669