Understanding fibromyalgia: lessons from the broader pain research community

J Pain. 2009 Aug;10(8):777-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2009.06.001.


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain condition marked by centrally mediated augmentation of pain and sensory processes. Skepticism has marked the history of this condition, but more recent study has identified neurobiological underpinnings supporting many of the symptoms associated with this condition. Early research in FM had unprecedented latitude within the rheumatology community to borrow heavily from theory and methods being applied in chronic pain research more generally. These insights facilitated rapid advances in FM research, not the least of which was the abandonment of a peripheral focus in favor of studying central mechanisms associated with central augmentation. Currently, rapid-paced discovery is taking place in FM genetics, patient assessment, new therapeutic targets, and novel methods of treatment delivery. Such insights are not likely to be limited in application just to FM and could have relevance to the broader field of pain research as well.

Perspective: This manuscript reviews the history of FM and its diagnosis, evidence supporting central augmentation of pain in FM, potential mechanisms of central augmentation, current approaches to integrated care of FM, and areas of active collaboration between FM research and other chronic pain conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Fibromyalgia / diagnosis
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology*
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Management*