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Seminar Abstract

Body Representation in Fibromyalgia and Other Chronic Pain Conditions

Speaker : Dr Carolyn Berryman, Robinson Research Institute, School of Medicine, The University of Adelaide.
Date : 10th of April 2018, 11:00AM until 12:00PM
Location : Australian Hearing Hub, 3.610, Macquarie University.

    Fibromyalgia is characterised by widespread pain and tenderness, fatigue and difficulty with tasks that require concentration and problem solving (commonly called ‘fibrofog’(Clauw 2014, Schmidt-Wilcke and Diers 2017)). Functionally, walking speed is diminished, and balance is altered (increased body sway in both forward/backwards direction and side to side (da Silva Costa, Gamundi et al. 2017)) and these features are significantly associated with high levels of pain, depression, stiffness, anxiety and fatigue. Further, responses to painful and non-painful stimuli are enhanced (Lopez-Sola, Woo et al. 2017). Body representation is also altered – individuals with fibromyalgia overestimate their body size and have a higher tendency to take note of bodily signals, but less confidence in interpreting their meaning (Valenzuela-Moguillansky, Reyes-Reyes et al. 2017). When individuals with fibromyalgia experienced a full body illusion, pain intensity diminished by 37% (Pamment and Aspell 2017) showing that the multisensory experience of the bodily self and the conscious experience of pain are closely interlinked. Indeed, the pain experience relies on a multisensory integration of information which includes online updating of background homeostatic information including body representation. A key link between sensorimotor control and higher order cognitive function is the representation of own and other’s body in the parieto-premotor network (Murata, Wen et al. 2016). An incongruence between body representation and external or internal task demands may contribute to poor balance, poor cognitive function and may make one vulnerable to fatigue and even pain. This talk outlines what we know about body representation in various chronic pain conditions and suggests some ways of investigating the mechanisms that underpin such changes.

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