The relation of fibromyalgia and fibromyalgia symptoms to self-reported seizures

Johannes J. Rasker, Frederick Wolfe, Ewa G. Klaver-Krol, Machiel J. Zwarts, Peter M. ten Klooster*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Several epidemiological and clinical reports associate fibromyalgia (FM) with seizure disorders, and clinical studies associate FM diagnosis with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. However, these associations rely on self-reports of being diagnosed with FM or unstandardized clinical diagnosis in combination with small samples. We investigated the association of FM and self-reported seizures using a large rheumatic disease databank and the current established self-reported, symptom-based FM diagnostic criteria.
We selected a random observation from 11,378 subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 2,390 (21.0%) of whom satisfied 2016 revised criteria for FM. Patients were inquired about the presence of any kind of seizures in the previous 6 months, anti-epileptic medications, and patient-reported symptoms and outcomes.
Seizures were reported by 89 RA patients who met FM criteria (FM+) and by 97 patients who did not (FM-), resulting in an age- and sex-adjusted seizure prevalence of 3.74 (95% CI 2.95 to 4.53) per 100 FM+ subjects and 1.08 (95% CI 0.87 to 1.30) in FM- subjects. The seizure odds ratio of FM+ to FM- cases was 3.54 (95% CI 2.65 to 4.74). Seizures were associated to a very similar degree with symptom reporting (somatic symptom count and comorbidity index) as to FM diagnosis variables. RA patients reporting seizures also reported worse pain, quality of life, and functional status. Seizure patients treated with anti-seizure medication had worse outcomes and more comorbidities than seizure patients with no seizure drugs.
We found a significant and similar association of both FM diagnostic variables and FMrelated symptom variables, including the number of symptoms and comorbidities, with self-reported seizures in people with RA. The observed association was similar to those found in previous studies of symptoms variables and seizures and does not suggest a unique role for fibromyalgia diagnosis. Rather, it suggests that multi-symptom comorbidity is linked to seizures in a complex and not yet clearly understood way. As the current study relied on selfreported seizures and was not able to distinguish between epileptic and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures, future studies are needed to replicate the findings using both validated FM criteria assessments and clinically verified diagnoses of epileptic and psychogenic seizures.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0246051
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'The relation of fibromyalgia and fibromyalgia symptoms to self-reported seizures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this