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Pain Ther. 2014 Dec;3(2):85-101. doi: 10.1007/s40122-014-0028-0. Epub 2014 Oct 25.

Assessing Cognitive and Psychomotor Performance in Patients with Fibromyalgia Syndrome.

Author information

1
Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Dresden, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.
2
Practice of Anaesthesia and Pain Therapy, Bonn, Germany.
3
Department of Anaesthesiology, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
4
Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
5
Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
6
Comprehensive Pain Centre, University Hospital Dresden, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.
7
Centre for Anaesthesiology, Emergency and Intensive Care Medicine, Göttingen, Germany. frank.petzke@med.uni-goettingen.de.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) generally present with chronic widespread pain, accompanied by a range of additional and non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue, disturbed sleep, and cognitive dysfunction, which tend to increase with overall severity. Previous studies have shown moderate cognitive impairment in patients with FMS, but there are few valid data explicitly assessing the relevance of these findings to everyday functions, such as driving ability. Therefore, we studied patients with FMS to assess the impact of FMS on tests that predict driving ability.

METHODS:

Female patients with FMS were prospectively compared to a historical control group of healthy volunteers. The test battery comprised assessments of visual orientation, concentration, attention, vigilance, motor coordination, performance under stress, and reaction time.

RESULTS:

A total of 43 patients were matched to 129 controls. The results indicated that the patients' psychomotor and cognitive performances were significantly non-inferior when compared to healthy controls (with 0.05% alcohol), with the exception of motor coordination. Patients and healthy controls showed an age-related decline in test performance. Correlations were smaller in patients and reversed for vigilance which was linked to a greater FMS symptom load in younger patients.

CONCLUSION:

The results of the present study demonstrate that, in general, the driving ability of patients with FMS was not inferior to that of healthy volunteers based on a standardized computer-based test battery. However, variables, such as younger age, depression, anxiety, fatigue, pain, and poor motor coordination, likely contribute to the subjective perception of cognitive dysfunction in FMS.

KEYWORDS:

Chronic pain; Driving ability; Fibromyalgia; Neurocognitive function; Vienna test system

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