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Painful effects of auditory startle, forehead cooling and psychological stress in patients with fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis

Drummond, P.D.ORCID: 0000-0002-3711-8737 and Willox, M. (2013) Painful effects of auditory startle, forehead cooling and psychological stress in patients with fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 74 (5). pp. 378-383.

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Objective The aim of this study was to determine whether the clinical pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia would increase during standard laboratory tasks and, if so, whether these increases were linked with individual differences in psychological distress. Methods Twenty-three patients with fibromyalgia and 16 patients with rheumatoid arthritis rated changes in clinical pain after an acoustic startle stimulus, during painful forehead cooling, and during stressful mental arithmetic. In addition, pain tolerance was assessed during a submaximal effort tourniquet test, and patients provided ratings of distress on a standard Depression, Anxiety and Stress Inventory. Results Pain at rest was associated with depression scores in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and was associated with stress scores in the fibromyalgia group. However, pain tolerance was unrelated to individual differences in psychological distress in either group. In patients with fibromyalgia, clinical pain increased after the acoustic startle stimulus and painful forehead cooling, and increased during stressful mental arithmetic. Arthritic pain also increased during forehead cooling and mental arithmetic in association with indices of psychological distress. Conclusions These findings suggest that processes linked with individual differences in distress aggravate pain in rheumatoid arthritis, whereas some other mechanism (e.g., failure of stress-related pain modulation processes or an aberrant interaction between nociceptive afferent and sympathetic efferent fibers) triggers stress-induced pain in fibromyalgia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2013 Elsevier Inc.
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