Neuropathic pain as part of chronic widespread pain: Environmental and genetic influences

Sukhleen K. Momi, Stella Maris Fabiane, Genevieve Lachance, Gregory Livshits, Frances M.K. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Chronic widespread pain (CWP) has complex aetiology and forms part of the fibromyalgia syndrome. Recent evidence suggests a higher frequency of neuropathic pain features in those with CWP than previously thought. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of neuropathic pain features in individuals with CWP and to estimate the influence of genetic and environmental factors on neuropathic pain in CWP. Validated questionnaires (the London Fibromyalgia Screening Study questionnaire and PainDETECT questionnaire) were used to classify twins as having CWP and neuropathic pain, respectively. The prevalence of CWP was 14.7% (n 5 4324), and of the 1357 twins invited to complete neuropathic pain screening, 15.9% of those having CWP demonstrated features of neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain was found to be heritable (A 5 37%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 23%-50%) with unique environmental factors accounting for 63% (95% CI: 49%-79%) of the variance. Heritability of neuropathic pain and CWP were found to be correlated, 0.54 (95% CI: 0.42-0.65). Increasing age, raised body mass index, female gender, and smoking were all risk factors for neuropathic pain (P , 0.05), and CWP (P , 0.05). High socioeconomic status showed negative correlation with neuropathic pain (P 5 0.003) and CWP (P 5 0.001). Bivariate analysis of the 2 pain traits revealed that genetic predisposition to neuropathic pain is shared with that for CWP. This is the first study to provide formal heritability estimates for neuropathic pain in CWP. The findings suggest that at least some of the genetic factors underlying the development of neuropathic pain and CWP are the same.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2100-2106
Number of pages7
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic widespread pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Genetic
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Twin


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