Interoception is contemporarily defined as the sense of the internal state of the body, which helps us understand what’s going on inside our body. This study investigates interoception in fibromyalgia and concludes that the hypervigilance towards potentially negative stimuli (i.e., pain) often associated with fibromyalgia may contribute to sensory overload, affecting the accuracy, sensibility and awareness of our pain.
Pain and emotion as predictive factors of interoception in fibromyalgia.
This study investigated interoception in fibromyalgia (FM), a disorder characterized by chronic pain accompanied by mood deregulation.
Based on observations on the relationship between somatosensory processing and pain in FM and considering the affective symptoms of this disorder, we tested in FM three dimensions of interoception: interoceptive accuracy (IA), interoceptive awareness (IAW) and interoceptive sensibility (IS).
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Twenty-one female FM patients (Mage = 50.3) and 21 female matched controls (Mage = 46.3) completed a heartbeat tracking task as an assessment of IA, rated confidence in their responses as a measure of IAW and completed the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness as a measure of IS. Furthermore, they completed self-report scales that, according to a principal component analysis, targeted anxiety, emotional consciousness and pain-related affect and reactions.
Multiple regression analyses showed that increased pain-related affect and reactions decrease IA in FM. When the results of each group were examined separately, such effect was found only in FM patients. On its turn, IS was predicted by emotional consciousness and pain-related affect and reactions, but these effects did not differ between FM and controls. Finally, none of the variables we used predicted IAW.
Pain-related affect and reactions in FM patients can reduce their interoceptive ability. Our results help to better understand the integration between bodily signals and emotional processing in chronic pain.
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Source: Borg C, Chouchou F, Dayot-Gorlero J, Zimmerman P, Maudoux D, Laurent B, Michael GA. Pain and emotion as predictive factors of interoception in fibromyalgia. J Pain Res. 2018 Apr 19;11:823-835. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S152012. eCollection 2018.