Lack of Small Nerve Fibers in Skin Linked to Greater Pain, More Severe Disease in Study

Lack of Small Nerve Fibers in Skin Linked to Greater Pain, More Severe Disease in Study
Fewer small nerve fibers in the skin is indicative of more severe disease among people with fibromyalgia, and may mark those with skin innervation as having a particular disease subtype meriting special attention, a new study suggests. "Reduction of skin innervation is associated with a severe fibromyalgia phenotype" was published in the Annals of Neurology. Small fibers are little nerves in the skin that are important for sensing things like touch, heat, and pain. Research suggests that these nerve fibers might play a role in fibromyalgia or affect how patients respond to treatment, but few studies have directly addressed this question. A team led by researchers at the University of Würzburg recruited 117 female adults with fibromyalgia to their center in Germany. For comparison, they also recruited 120 age-matched individuals without fibromyalgia and 11 people with chronic widespread pain linked to major depressive disorder (MD-P). All were women and all underwent full neurological examinations. The researchers also took skin biopsies, and assessed the prevalence and health of the patients' small fibers with a battery of tests. In total, 63% of fibromyalgia patients had abnormally low small fiber innervation in at least one biopsy site. In contrast, only 18% of the healthy controls showed low numbers of small nerve fibers, as did just one of the those (9%) with the depressive disorder. This suggests that small fiber abnormalities are commonplace among people with fibromyalgia. Interestingly, in fibrom
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