Daughters of women with fibromyalgia are more likely to experience symptoms such as pain, depression, and negative thoughts about pain than are the daughters of healthy women, a Brazilian study suggests.
Future studies are needed to evaluate possible genetic factors in these women, according to the investigators. Additionally, researchers should compare daughters with mothers, and analyze the time to disease occurrence and possible treatments to avoid the development of fibromyalgia.
The study, “Pain catastrophizing in daughters of women with fibromyalgia: a case-control study,” was published in the Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic widespread pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and psychiatric disorders, such as depression, all of which contribute to a reduced quality of life and overall well-being.
Catastrophic thoughts, or exaggerating potential dangers or implications, can aggravate pain perception and limit function in these patients, studies have found.
To learn more, researchers from Brazil compared the levels of pain catastrophizing between 38 daughters of women diagnosed with fibromyalgia, with a median age 30, and 38 daughters of healthy women, whose median age was 27.5. Characteristics such as age, body mass index (a measure of body fat), and formal education were similar in both groups.
In a single appointment, the researchers assessed chronic pain and pain catastrophizing with specific scales, along with the hopelessness, magnification — exaggerating the importance of something — and rumination domains. Rumination is continuously having the same thoughts.
The team also assessed capacity to deal with adversities with the Resilience Scale, depression with the Beck Depression Inventory-II, and anxiety with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.
The results showed that daughters of fibromyalgia patients had significantly higher catastrophism compared with the control group (median score 21.5 vs. 12.5). Also, daughters of women with the disorder showed higher rumination (median 9.0 vs. 6.0) and magnification levels (median 5.0 vs. 3.0) related to pain.
Notably, hopelessness was not significantly different between the groups. Also, the capacity to deal with adversities was similar between the two groups.
Meanwhile, depression was significantly higher in daughters of patients (median 10.0 vs. 6.0). In turn, state anxiety, but not trait anxiety, also was significantly different between the two groups. State anxiety refers to a temporary reaction to adverse events, while trait anxiety refers to personality tendencies making individuals prone to anxiety.
The total pain score was significantly higher in daughters of women with fibromyalgia (mean 40.05 vs. 22.18), as was pain frequency (18.52 vs. 12.05), pain interference in activities (12.60 vs. 5.36), and pain interference in emotions (mean 8.92 vs. 4.76).
“Responses from case group showed that preoccupation with the possibility of developing fibromyalgia can provoke alterations in the emotional state, causing depressive and anxious thoughts and feelings, since daughters witnessed the emotional and physical discomfort provoked by pain in their mothers,” the researchers wrote.
Among the study’s limitations, according to the researchers, were the lack of investigation of other medical conditions and the sampling method used.
“Daughters of women with fibromyalgia are more likely to have symptoms of fibromyalgia due to their visualization of the syndrome,” the researchers concluded. “This indicates that emotional aspects may induce changes, and additional research on an individual basis is necessary.”