Fibromyalgia (FM) is defined by idiopathic, chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain. In adults with FM, a metaanalysis of lower-leg skin biopsy demonstrated 45% pooled prevalence of abnormally low epidermal neurite density (END). END < 5th centile of the normal distribution is the consensus diagnostic threshold for small-fiber neuropathy. However, the clinical significance of END findings in FM is unknown. Here, we examine the prevalence of small-fiber pathology in juvenile FM, which has not been studied previously.

Methods We screened 21 patients aged 13–20 years with FM diagnosed by pediatric rheumatologists. Fifteen meeting the American College of Rheumatology criteria (modified for juvenile FM) underwent lower-leg measurements of END and completed validated questionnaires assessing pain, functional disability, and dysautonomia symptoms. The primary outcome was proportion of FM patients with END < 5th centile of age/sex/race-based laboratory norms. Cases were systematically matched by ethnicity, race, sex, and age to a group of previously biopsied healthy adolescents with selection blinded to biopsy results. All 23 controls matching demographic criteria were included.

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