Fibromyalgia: from pathophysiology to therapy.

Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 48106, USA. tobiass@
Nature Reviews Rheumatology (Impact Factor: 9.75). 07/2011; 7(9):518-27. DOI: 10.1038/nrrheum.2011.98
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Individuals with fibromyalgia generally experience chronic widespread pain, which can be accompanied by further symptoms including fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety and depressive episodes. As the recognition and diagnosis of fibromyalgia has improved, the availability of therapeutic options for patients has increased. Furthermore, research into the neurobiological mechanisms that contribute to the chronic pain and concomitant symptoms experienced by patients with fibromyalgia has advanced our understanding of this debilitating disorder. In this Review, we aim to provide an overview of existing pathophysiological concepts. The roles of biological and psychological stress, genetic factors, and pain and sensory processing in the pathophysiology of fibromyalgia and related conditions are discussed. In addition, pharmacological treatments, including monoamine modulators, calcium channel modulators and γ-aminobutyric acid modulators, as well as nonpharmacological treatment options are considered.

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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine whether the clinical pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia would increase during standard laboratory tasks and, if so, whether these increases were linked with individual differences in psychological distress. METHODS: Twenty-three patients with fibromyalgia and 16 patients with rheumatoid arthritis rated changes in clinical pain after an acoustic startle stimulus, during painful forehead cooling, and during stressful mental arithmetic. In addition, pain tolerance was assessed during a submaximal effort tourniquet test, and patients provided ratings of distress on a standard Depression, Anxiety and Stress Inventory. RESULTS: Pain at rest was associated with depression scores in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and was associated with stress scores in the fibromyalgia group. However, pain tolerance was unrelated to individual differences in psychological distress in either group. In patients with fibromyalgia, clinical pain increased after the acoustic startle stimulus and painful forehead cooling, and increased during stressful mental arithmetic. Arthritic pain also increased during forehead cooling and mental arithmetic in association with indices of psychological distress. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that processes linked with individual differences in distress aggravate pain in rheumatoid arthritis, whereas some other mechanism (e.g., failure of stress-related pain modulation processes or an aberrant interaction between nociceptive afferent and sympathetic efferent fibers) triggers stress-induced pain in fibromyalgia.
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