Recent advances in the understanding of genetic susceptibility to chronic pain and somatic symptoms

Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2011 Dec;13(6):521-7. doi: 10.1007/s11926-011-0208-4.


Regional (e.g., low back) and widespread chronic pain disorders are common in the general population and are known to be heritable. Recent research suggests that genetic factors increase the risk of developing chronic pain independent of the site of pain. Candidate gene studies have been conducted on key pathways to elucidate susceptibility genes that are likely to be involved in both the sensory and affective components of pain. Findings have been largely equivocal, predominantly due to small sample size, but larger studies of pain in general population samples are being conducted. Interesting candidate genes from animal models and monogenic pain disorders are beginning to emerge. Recent advances in genetics research have yet to make an impact in the pain field but provide considerable scope for future research efforts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / genetics*
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Fibromyalgia / genetics
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Nociceptive Pain / genetics*
  • Nociceptive Pain / physiopathology
  • Nociceptive Pain / psychology
  • Somatoform Disorders / genetics*
  • Somatoform Disorders / physiopathology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology