Fibromyalgia and Neuropathic Pain Have Both Differences and Similarities in Sensory Profiles

Fibromyalgia and Neuropathic Pain Have Both Differences and Similarities in Sensory Profiles

FMRalf Baron from the Klinik für Neurologie, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein in Germany and colleagues, compared co-morbities and sensory perceptions in patients with Painful Diabetic Neuropathy and Fibromyalgia.

The study entitled “Fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain – differences and similarities. A comparison of 3057 patients with diabetic painful neuropathy and fibromyalgia,” was recently published in the journal BMC Neurology.

Painful diabetic neuropathy (DPN) is a chronic neuropathic pain syndrome caused by a metabolic damage of primary afferent neurons. The sensory symptoms include numbness, prickling, burning or electric shocks.

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain condition characterized by widespread pain mainly perceived in deep somatic tissues, i.e., in muscles and joints. Moreover, the patients have abnormal pain sensitivity and frequent additional comorbidities like sleep disturbances and affective disorders.

Patients with diabetic neuropathy (DPN) and fibromyalgia (FM) differ substantially in pathogenetic factors and the spatial distribution of the perceived pain. However, similar abnormal sensory complaints and pain exists in both conditions.

In this regard, the team of researchers conducted a multicenter trial in 450 outpatient centers, involving 1434 fibromyalgia patients and 1623 patients with painful diabetic neuropathy, and compared the two conditions epidemiological features and co-morbidities. Moreover, they examined similarities and differences of sensory symptoms between the two conditions. All the participants were asked to fill a battery of self-report questionnaires assessing sleep disturbances, depression, pain and sensory perceptions.

Data analysis revealed differences between the two groups of patients (DPN vs. FM), in depression and sleep disturbances. However, patients with DPN and FM reported similar designations for their sensory perceptions. These included burning pain, prickling and touch-evoked allodynia. The analysis of the results identified five different groups according to sensory profiles (combination of sensory symptoms), with two of subgroups being specific for fibromyalgia whereas one profile occurred predominantly in DPN patients. Two sensory profiles were found frequently in patients of both entities (20-35%).

Based on these findings, the team of researchers suggest that patients can be classified on the basis of their sensory symptoms, by the use of self-report questionnaires. Results revealed that DPN and FM patients experience very similar sensory phenomena. The combination of sensory symptoms was found to be unique for each condition, suggesting that are distinct aetiologies in the symptoms generation. With regards to sensory profiles, found to be overlapped in 20-35% of patients in both aetiologies, the researchers suggest a potential association with similar mechanisms operating in certain subgroups of DPN and FM patients. The researchers mention that this questionnaire approach to sensory symptoms can open potential treatment strategies for the symptoms the patients suffer from most.


  1. Matanah says:

    The information provided confirms what I ” guessed ” may be true, I.e. the many similarities existing between neuropathy and fibromyalgia….having lived with symptoms of both conditions post hospitalization, and still awaiting follow-up neurologica l consultation for more than 3yrs (!) your I formation has provided deeper insight regarding my existing condition.
    I thank you.

  2. Matanah says:

    Oohh!! Good news…unbelievable but true…1 hour after reading and commenting I received a phone call offering me consultation with a neurologist !!
    You give a little; you get a little…thank you gain a little…thgain !!!

  3. Kim says:

    I have diabetes and it is affecting my feet (especially) with neuropathy ( I have a loss of sensation but yet they are painful). The last couple of years I have lost maybe 40-60 lbs( I have always been overweight). I did not really diet to lose this, it just seemed to start happening( I am not complaining 😁). I have been having problems with my body though, experiencing weakness in my muscles, hard to lift things, opening jars and caps is difficult, cannot seem to lift much now. I am really struggling with my legs, restless legs when I sit or drive, unexplained pain wakes me sometimes. They often have the feeling that a person experiences after cramping. Sometimes when I try to stretch them or extend or bend my feet I get cramping. When I wake in the mornings my hands feel like I have a baseball glove on them and my feet feel the same. I can barely get myself out of bed because I feel so tired and as far as I know, I have slept. I take 9 pills a day for diabetes as well as vitamin D, 10 mg of Noretriptiline( pardon my misspellings) I also take Cymbalta and Quinne. My doctor says maybe fibromyalgia or maybe the diabetes. I was told I had IBS when I had gallbladder surgery when I was 21, I am now 55 and female. I work in a school and I just want to cry, because I feel like I am barely moving around. I feel as if my life is slipping from me( I am quite sure that I am depressed). I am frustrated and feel like, meh, it is no big deal. I must return to work in a couple days after our Christmas break to getting up at 5:30 am, doing outside duties 3 times a day and walking the very long hallways many, many times a day. I am trying to push through with 5 more work years ahead of me. My doctor wants me to try cutting all carbs from my life but that is like taking any life enjoyment away( I basically just work, eat and sleep now). Does it really matter if it the diabetes or fibromyalgia I wonder, should I just suffer and suck it up. Where do I turn or is there anywhere to turn?

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