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Clin Neurophysiol. 2019 Jan;130(1):12-19. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2018.09.030. Epub 2018 Oct 31.

Fibromyalgia: Increased reactivity of the muscle membrane and a role of central regulation.

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Roessingh Research and Development, Roessinghsbleekweg 33b, 7522 AH Enschede, The Netherlands. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, Health & Technology, Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences, University Twente, Drienerlolaan 5, 7522 NB Enschede, The Netherlands.
Roessingh Research and Development, Roessinghsbleekweg 33b, 7522 AH Enschede, The Netherlands.
Academic Center for Epileptology Kempenhaeghe, Sterkselseweg 65, 5591 VE Heeze, The Netherlands.



Fibromyalgia (FM) is characterized by widespread muscle pain and central neural deregulation. Previous studies showed increased muscle fiber conduction velocity (CV) in non-painful muscles of FM patients. This study investigates the relationship between central activation and the CV in FM.


Twenty-two females with primary FM and 21 controls underwent surface electromyography of the non-painful biceps brachii. Mean CVs were calculated from the motor unit potential velocities (CV-MUPs), and the CV-MUPs' statistical distributions were presented as histograms. The amount of muscle activity (average rectified voltage, ARV) was measured.


The CV was higher in the FM-group than in the controls (P = 0.021), with CV-MUPs generally shifted to higher values, indicative of increased muscle membrane propagation speeds. The largest increase in the CV of the FM-group occurred when adopting and maintaining a limb position at only 5% of maximum strength (P < 0.001); the CV did not, as normal, increase with greater force. However, the ARV in both groups similarly increased with force.


In fibromyalgia patients, the muscle membrane propagation speed increases independently of the force load or amount of muscle activity produced. When adopting a limb position, the patients show an augmented muscle membrane reaction, suggesting deregulation from higher neural centers.


These findings contribute to understanding fibromyalgia.


Central activation; Fibromyalgia; Motor unit action potential; Muscle fiber conduction velocity; Muscle membrane; Surface electromyography

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