Journal Article
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
Review
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Treatment of fibromyalgia and its symptoms.

The main symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome (FM) are pain, stiffness, subjective weakness and muscle fatigue. Pain in FM usually fluctuates, as well as being 'deep' and is always associated with local or generalized tenderness (hyperalgesia and allodynia). The pathogenesis of such peripheral and/or CNS changes in FM is unclear, but peripheral tissue changes, specifically in muscles, have been implicated. Indirect evidence from interventions that attenuate tonic peripheral impulse input in patients with FM suggest that overall FM pain is dependent on nociception. More importantly, FM-associated widespread mechanical hyperalgesia and allodynia can also be improved or abolished by removal of peripheral pain impulse input. In addition, FM patients show evidence of abnormal stress reactivity, including blunting of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and increased autonomic nervous system responsiveness. Thus, therapeutic interventions in FM should target not only pain reductions, but also improvements of peripheral/central sensitization and neuroendocrine/autonomic abnormalities. Despite the complexity of FM, there are pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions that are available that have clinical benefit. Present evidence indicates efficacy of antidepressants, cardiovascular exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy. Based on this evidence, a stepwise program emphasizing education, medications, exercise and cognitive therapy can be recommended.

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