Comorbidity of fibromyalgia and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in a community sample of women

Karen G. Raphael, Malvin N. Janal, Sangeetha Nayak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To test alternative explanations for the comorbidity between fibromyalgia (FM), a medically unexplained syndrome involving widespread pain, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In contrast to a default "risk factor" hypothesis, tested hypotheses were that: A) The association is due to a sampling bias introduced by the study of care-seeking individuals; B) FM is an additive burden that strains coping resources when confronting life stress; and C) Arousal symptoms of PTSD and FM are confounded. Design. Community-dwelling women in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area (N = 1,312) completed a telephone survey regarding FM-like symptoms prior to September 11, 2001. Approximately 6 months after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, they again completed the survey, to which questions regarding PTSD symptoms were added. Results. The odds of probable PTSD were more than three times greater in women with FM-like symptoms, both assessed after 9/11. The odds ratio was not reduced by controlling for FM-like symptoms before 9/11 or for the potentially confounded symptoms of PTSD specifically related to arousal. Conclusions. These findings lead us to reject alternate explanations for the comorbidity between FM and PTSD. Speculations that FM and PTSD share psychobiological risk factors remain plausible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Fibromyalgia
  • Pain
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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