Fibromyalgia in women. Abnormalities of regional cerebral blood flow in the thalamus and the caudate nucleus are associated with low pain threshold levels

Arthritis Rheum. 1995 Jul;38(7):926-38. doi: 10.1002/art.1780380708.


Objective: To determine if regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the left and right hemithalami or the left and right heads of the caudate nucleus is abnormal in women with fibromyalgia (FM).

Methods: Resting-state rCBF in the hemithalami and left and right heads of the caudate nucleus of 10 untreated women with FM and 7 normal control women was measured by single-photon-emission computed tomography. Pain threshold levels at tender and control points also were assessed in both the women with FM and the controls.

Results: The rCBF in the left and right hemithalami and the left and right heads of the caudate nucleus was significantly lower in women with FM than in normal controls (P = 0.01, P = 0.003, P = 0.01, and P = 0.02, respectively). Compared with controls, the women with FM also were characterized by significantly lower cortical rCBF (P = 0.001) and lower pain threshold levels at both tender points (P = 0.0001) and control points (P = 0.0001).

Conclusion: The findings of low rCBF and generalized low pain thresholds support the hypothesis that abnormal pain perception in women with FM may result from a functional abnormality within the central nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caudate Nucleus / blood supply*
  • Caudate Nucleus / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / epidemiology
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology*
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Self Disclosure
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thalamus / blood supply*
  • Thalamus / physiology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon