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J Rheumatol. 1988 Aug;15(8):1264-70.

Fibromyalgia: generalized pain intolerance and manifold symptom reporting.

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Department of Psychology, University of Maine, Orono.


We tested the current criteria for fibromyalgia. Pain tolerance was measured at tender point and control point sites using a pressure algometer, and responses to 6 standard psychological self-reports were obtained from 125 patients with generalized nonarticular rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis. Among patients with generalized nonarticular rheumatism, published symptom criteria for fibromyalgia did not correlate significantly with the number of tender points. Only lower generalized pressure point pain tolerance distinguished fibromyalgia from other generalized nonarticular rheumatism. Generalized nonarticular rheumatism mean scores were much higher than controls on tests measuring the tendency to report physical symptoms, including headaches and functional bowel syndrome. It is probable that patients with fibromyalgia do not differ in any important physical or psychological respect from other patients with generalized nonarticular rheumatism except for the presence of tender points. However, the presence of tender points is merely a reflection of the patient's general pressure pain sensitivity and is not indicative of any special localized pathological phenomenon. The concept of fibromyalgia as an entity separate from the rest of generalized nonarticular rheumatism may be an artifact of a physician's approach to the patient. Most patients with generalized nonarticular rheumatism demonstrate an abnormally high frequency of reporting manifold disagreeable symptoms and probably come to the attention of many medical disciplines.

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