Purpose of review: Pain is the primary presenting symptom in the vast majority of inflammatory and noninflammatory rheumatic diseases. Patients tell us that improved pain relief is a principal concern. Many pain complaints respond incompletely to the treatment of the primary rheumatic disorder and pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia do not respond to traditional analgesic medications. Therefore, proper management requires consideration of additional medications for symptomatic relief. This review addresses newer strategies for the treatment of pain in patients with fibromyalgia that may be also useful in patients with other rheumatic diseases.
Recent findings: New medications have been developed with a better understanding of chronic pain mechanisms that principally address pain neurobiology at the levels of the spinal cord and the brain. Clinical studies demonstrate the effectiveness of the alpha-2-delta ligands (gabapentin and pregabalin) and the norepinephrine/serotonin reuptake inhibitors (duloxetine and milnacipran) in fibromyalgia.
Summary: Patients with chronic pain, best classified as fibromyalgia, either primary or in association with other rheumatic disorders, may experience benefit from new therapies targeting central pain mechanisms.