Pain physiology education improves health status and endogenous pain inhibition in fibromyalgia

Jessica Van Oosterwijck, Mira Meeus, Lorna Paul, Mieke De Schryver, Aurelie Pascal, Luc Lambrecht, Jo Nijs

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    139 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: There is evidence that education on pain physiology can have positive effects on pain, disability, and catastrophization in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain disorders. A double-blind randomized controlled trial (RCT) was performed to examine whether intensive pain physiology education is also effective in fibromyalgia (FM) patients, and whether it is able to influence the impaired endogenous pain inhibition of these patients.Methods: Thirty FM patients were randomly allocated to either the experimental (receiving pain physiology education) or the control group (receiving pacing self-management education). The primary outcome was the efficacy of the pain inhibitory mechanisms, which was evaluated by spatially accumulating thermal nociceptive stimuli. Secondary outcome measures included pressure pain threshold measurements and questionnaires assessing pain cognitions, behavior, and health status. Assessments were performed at baseline, 2 weeks, and 3 months follow-up. Repeated measures ANOVAS were used to reveal possible therapy effects and effect sizes were calculated.Results: After the intervention the experimental group had improved knowledge of pain neurophysiology (P<0.001). Patients from this group worried less about their pain in the short term (P=0.004). Long-term improvements in physical functioning (P=0.046), vitality (P=0.047), mental health (P<0.001), and general health perceptions (P<0.001) were observed. In addition, the intervention group reported lower pain scores and showed improved endogenous pain inhibition (P=0.041) compared with the control group.Discussion: These results suggest that FM patients are able to understand and remember the complex material about pain physiology. Pain physiology education seems to be a useful component in the treatment of FM patients as it improves health status and endogenous pain inhibition in the long term.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)873-882
    Number of pages10
    JournalClinical Journal of Pain
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


    • Pain physiology education
    • health status
    • endogenous pain inhibition
    • fibromyalgia


    Dive into the research topics of 'Pain physiology education improves health status and endogenous pain inhibition in fibromyalgia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this