Objective: To study the relationship between cervical spine injury and the development of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).
Methods: One hundred two patients with neck injury and 59 patients with leg fractures (control group) were assessed for nonarticular tenderness and the presence of FMS. A count of 18 tender points was conducted by thumb palpation; and tenderness thresholds were assessed by dolorimetry at 9 tender sites. All patients were interviewed about the presence and severity of neck and FMS-related symptoms. FMS was diagnosed using the American College of Rheumatology 1990 criteria. Additional questions assessed measures of physical functioning and quality of life (QOL).
Results: Although no patient had a chronic pain syndrome prior to the trauma, FMS was diagnosed following injury in 21.6% of those with neck injury versus 1.7% of the control patients with lower extremity fractures (P = 0.001). Almost all symptoms were more common and severe in the group with neck injury. FMS was noted at a mean of 3.2 months (SD 1.1) after the trauma. Neck injury patients with FMS (n = 22) had more tenderness, had more severe and prevalent FMS-related symptoms, and reported lower QOL and more impaired physical functioning than did those without FMS (n = 80). In spite of the injury or the presence of FMS, all patients were employed at the time of examination. Twenty percent of patients with neck injury and 24% of patients with leg fractures filed an insurance claim. Claims were not associated with the presence of FMS, increased FMS symptoms, pain, or impaired functioning.
Conclusion: FMS was 13 times more frequent following neck injury than following lower extremity injury. All patients continued to be employed, and insurance claims were not increased in patients with FMS.