To study the prevalence of small-fiber neuropathy (SFN) in a large cohort of patients with fibromyalgia (FM) and to better characterize the subset of patients with both FM and SFN.
This 1-year, retrospective, observational cohort study included 265 patients with FM. They all performed electrochemical skin conductance (ESC) using the Sudoscan device, 1 of the simplest and most reliable technique to assess the distal autonomic nerve fibers. They completed 4 self-assessment questionnaires: (1) the Central Sensitization Inventory (CSI), (2) the Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory (NPSI), and (3) the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ).
Fifty-three patients (20%) had reduced ESC values. These patients had higher CSI and HADS scores, and a larger intake of analgesic drugs compared with patients with no ESC abnormalities. Central sensitization, which was extreme in 69% of the patients (CSI score ≥60), was 1 of the main determinants of ESC abnormalities and was associated with a higher NPSI score, even though these 2 factors were not correlated.
Over the past 10 years, studies have shown that a significant proportion of patients with FM have signs of small nerve fiber impairment. The possible involvement of SFN, in the occurrence and presentation of clinical symptoms in FM patients, remains however unclear. This is the first study that showed an association between central sensitization and both small nerve fiber impairment and neuropathic pain features in FM patients, rather than a direct association between SFN and neuropathic pain.

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