Fibromyalgia and Associated Disorders: From Pain to Chronic Suffering, From Subjective Hypersensitivity to Hypersensitivity Syndrome

Front Med (Lausanne). 2021 Jul 14;8:666914. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.666914. eCollection 2021.

Abstract

The concept of fibromyalgia has progressed to achieve a certain consensus regarding the definition of the condition. We summarize what is known in 2020, be it in terms of diagnosis, with the criteria that have changed over the years, or at the level of the psychological profile, via the notions of "catastrophizing" and "coping" and post-traumatic syndrome. The importance of fatigue and sleep disorders is underlined, with the chronological sequence of post-traumatic syndrome, chronic fatigue, and then amplification of the pain and the onset of multiple associated symptoms. The etiopathogenic debate has been enriched thanks to neuro-imaging data to discover the start of the central neurological signature. The many associated symptoms are reanalyzed in the context of so-called sister conditions which form sometimes more or less separate entities, such as chronic fatigue syndrome or restless legs syndrome for example. What these conditions have in common is hypersensitivity, not just to pain, but also to all exteroceptive stimuli, from deep sensitivity in the neuro-vegetative system, the sense organs and certain functions of the central nervous system, to the psychological aspects and sleep control. In summary, it is possible to define fibromyalgia as a cognitive disorder of cortical integration of chronic pain, with amplification of painful and sensory nociception, decrease in the threshold for the perception of pain, and persistence of a stimulus that maintains the process in chronicity. Fibromyalgia is part of a group of chronic hypersensitivity syndromes of central origin, with a very wide range of means of expression.

Keywords: diagnosis; fatigue; fibromyalgia; hypersensitisation; neuro-imaging; pain; psyche.