Thermal and visceral hypersensitivity in irritable bowel syndrome patients with and without fibromyalgia

Baharak Moshiree, Donald D. Price, Michael E. Robinson, Ryan Gaible, G. Nicholas Verne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder characterized by both visceral and somatic hyperalgesia, producing a similar effect seen with the central hypersensitivity mechanism in fibromyalgia (FM). OBJECTIVES: The aim of the current study was to compare magnitudes of visceral and thermal hypersensitivity in IBS patients and FM patients with IBS (FM+IBS) compared with healthy controls. METHODS: Female patients with IBS (n=12), FM+IBS (n=12), and control participants (n=13) rated pain intensity to hot water immersion (45 and 47°C) of the hand/foot and to phasic distension of the rectum (35, 55 mm Hg) on a Mechanical Visual Analog Scale. The data were analyzed with 3 separate 1-way analyses of variance with post hoc Tukey tests. RESULTS: For both thermal and visceral stimuli, the control group had lower pain ratings than either the IBS or FM+IBS groups (P<0.001). IBS patients rated rectal distension as more painful than the FM+IBS group (P=0.005). During hot water immersion of the foot, the FM+IBS group had higher pain ratings than the IBS group (P<0.001). During hand immersion, FM+IBS and IBS patients did not significantly differ in their pain intensity ratings (P=0.4). CONCLUSIONS: FM+IBS patients show greater thermal hypersensitivity compared with IBS patients. However, IBS patients exhibit higher pain ratings to rectal distension compared with FM+IBS patients. This data suggests that regions of primary and secondary hyperalgesia are dependent on the primary pain complaint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-330
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2007


  • Central sensitization
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Thermal hypersensitivity
  • Visceral hypersensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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