Fibromyalgia and sleep-disordered breathing: the missing link
© BioMed Central Ltd 2008
Published: 25 November 2008
Recently, Martinez-Lavin  proposed a model of sympathetically maintained neuropathic pain syndrome that has the merit of scrutinizing possible mechanisms behind the central sensitization model . Eisinger , in an editorial comment, raises the issue of heterogeneity permeating Martinez-Lavin's proposition. Since it is difficult to establish a traumatic trigger event in all cases, Eisinger considers multicausality as more reasonable than a single post-traumatic etiology for all cases. Félix and Fontenele  further explored this venue, speculating that the orthostatic intolerance symptoms seen in the majority of fibromyalgia patients are a consequence of sympathetic hyperactivity. The idea that a COMT val-158-met polymorphism may cause higher cathecolamine levels has been explored . Loevinger and colleagues  have shown that the metabolic syndrome is more common in individuals with fibromyalgia who also have higher body mass index, blood pressure, and waist-to-hip ratio than controls.
Interestingly, elevated body mass index, blood pressure, and waist-to-hip ratio are associated with sleep-disordered breathing. We recently reported in a study that 50% of the women with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome or upper airway resistance syndrome had chronic pain and more than 11 tender points when pressed with 4 kgf/cm2 . Guille-minault and colleagues  reported orthostatic intolerance in patients with upper airway resistance syndrome. We believe that the authors investigating this theme should discuss the possibility of sleep-disordered breathing being the missing link between fibromyalgia, pain, disturbed sleep, alpha-delta sleep, hypotension, sympathetic hyperactivity, and metabolic syndrome.
We are conducting investigations into whether exposition to the typical stress of sleep-disordered breathing – with repeated arousal episodes and hypoxemia – has fibromyalgia as a possible outcome. Our preliminary results underline the need to consider and further explore this hypothesis.
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