Comorbid extra-intestinal central sensitization conditions worsen irritable bowel syndrome in primary care patients

Xiao Jing Wang, Jon O. Ebbert, Connor G. Loftus, Jordan K. Rosedahl, Lindsey M. Philpot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized as a central sensitization syndrome (CSS), a group of conditions including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and restless leg syndrome (RLS) among others with frequent comorbidities of anxiety, depression, and chemical sensitivity. The prevalence of comorbid conditions and their impact on IBS symptom severity and quality of life in rural community populations has not been described. Methods: We administered a cross-sectional survey to patients with a documented CSS diagnosis in rural primary care practices to evaluate the relationship between CSS diagnoses, quality of life, symptom severity, and interactions with healthcare providers utilizing validated questionnaires. Subgroup analysis was performed on the IBS cohort. Mayo Clinic IRB approved the study. Key Results: Seven hundred seventy-five individuals out of 5000 completed the survey (15.5% response rate) with 264 (34%) reporting IBS. Only 3% (n = 8) of IBS patients reported IBS alone without comorbid CSS condition. Most respondents reported overlapping migraine (196, 74%), depression (183, 69%), anxiety (171, 64%), and fibromyalgia (139, 52%). IBS patients with more than two comorbid CS condition showed significantly higher symptom severity with linear increase. Quality of life was lower in IBS with comorbid conditions, particularly in patients with IBS and RLS (mean EQ5-D 0.36 vs. 0.8 in IBS only, p < 0.01). Quality of life declined as number of comorbid conditions increased. Conclusions & Inferences: Patients with IBS often have multiple CS disorders which increases symptom severity and lowers quality of life. Understanding the impact of multiple CSS diagnoses and treating these as a global condition may improve patient experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14546
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • central sensitization
  • central sensitization syndrome
  • fibromyalgia
  • irritable bowel syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Gastroenterology


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