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Pain Research and Management
Volume 3 (1998), Issue 1, Pages 23-32
Original Article

Relationship Between Pressure Pain Threshold and Coping Strategies in Patients with Fibromyalgia

Ji-Young Song,1 Samuel Noh,2 Manfred Harth,3 and Harold Merskey3

1Department of Psychiatry, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
2Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
3Department of Psychiatry and Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Received 21 October 1996; Revised 29 July 1997

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To explore the hypothesis that the intensity of pain, pain thresholds and coping mechanisms differ between patients with fibromyalgia and those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in order to determine whether pain coping strategies contribute to the understanding of how patients adjust to fibromyalgia.

METHODS: Thirty-eight fibromyalgia patients were compared with 15 RA patients regarding severity of pain, pain history, pressure pain thresholds (measured with a pressure algometer) and pain coping strategies (measured with the Coping Strategies Questionnaire [CSQ]).

RESULTS: Fibromyalgia patients scored significantly higher than RA patients on severity of pain and had lower pain thresholds at three pairs of nontender sites than the RA group. Fibromyalgia patients were significantly different from RA patients with respect to catastrophizing and increasing behavioural activity, but this differentiation was not maintained with respect to the three main factors of the CSQ. Overall, both the fibromyalgia and RA groups resembled previous chronic pain populations. Depression and anxiety had strong negative correlations with the combined coping scores on the seven subscales (P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with fibromyalgia may use some distinctive coping strategies and tend to manage their pain in many of the same ways as other patients with chronic pain.