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Fibromyalgia: neurogenic abnormalities in the sacral myotomes/ 2020


Senior Member
Electrodiagnostic Abnormalities Associated with Fibromyalgia
Mieke Hulens,1 Frans Bruyninckx,2 Ricky Rasschaert,3 Greet Vansant,4 Peter De Mulder,5 Ingeborg Stalmans,6,7 Chris Bervoets,8,9 and Wim Dankaerts1


Increasing evidence suggests that fibromyalgia most likely represents a neurological dysfunction.

We previously hypothesized that at least some fibromyalgia cases may be caused by irritation of nerve root fibers and sensory neurons due to moderately increased cerebrospinal pressure.

Because of the rostro-caudal hydrostatic pressure gradient, neurogenic abnormalities are expected to be most pronounced in sacral nerve roots.

The purpose was to review electrodiagnostic tests of patients with fibromyalgia.

A retrospective review of electrodiagnostic test results, including the lumbar and sacral nerve root myotomes of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia according to the 1990 criteria of the American College of Rheumatology was done.

All 17 patients were female.

Sural nerve responses could not be elicited in 12% and S1-Hoffmann reflex latencies were increased in 41%.

In 12% of the patients, fibular motor nerve distal latency and conduction velocity were outside normal limits.

Needle-EMG revealed neurogenic motor unit potentials in 0% of L2, 6% of L3, 29% of L4, 71% of L5, 47% of S1, 94% of S2, and 76% of S3-S4 myotomes.

S3-S4 nerve-supplied anal reflexes were delayed in 94%.


This is the first time that electrodiagnostic data of both lumbar and sacral nerve root myotomes in fibromyalgia patients are presented.

All patients showed neurogenic abnormalities that were more pronounced in the sacral than in the lumbar myotomes with a rather patchy distribution pattern.

We propose that, in addition to skin punch biopsies to assess small fiber neuropathy, assessment of the anal reflex may be a useful part of the diagnostic pathway in patients with fibromyalgia.