Fibromyalgia syndrome: a discussion of the syndrome and pharmacotherapy

Howard S Smith, Robert L Barkin
American Journal of Therapeutics 2010, 17 (4): 418-39
Fibromyalgia is a complex condition that is characterized by chronic widespread pain and multiple other symptoms, including fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive dysfunction, stiffness, and depressive episodes. Fibromyalgia may coexist and/or overlap with other conditions that may involve central sensitivity, including chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis, and temporomandibular disorder. The pathophysiology of fibromyalgia remains uncertain but is believed to be partly the result of central systems affecting afferent processing as well as impaired endogenous pain-inhibitory systems. Abnormal central nociceptive processing may contribute to fibromyalgia, producing heightened responses to various noxious stimuli with resulting mechanical hyperalgesia. Fibromyalgia remains a clinical diagnosis. There has been a recent paradigm shift away from requiring 11 or more out of 18 tender points and instead focusing on the presence of chronic widespread pain as well as symptoms of fatigue, unrefreshed sleep, and other somatic complaints. Although there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, multidisciplinary team efforts using combined treatment approaches, including patient education, aerobic exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, and pharmacologic therapies (serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors [eg, duloxetine, milnacipran] and alpha 2-delta receptor ligands [eg, pregabalin]) may improve symptoms as well as function of patients with fibromyalgia.


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