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Understanding Fibromyalgia: Lessons from the Broader Pain Research Community

  • David A. Williams
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to David A. Williams, Chronic Pain & Fatigue Research Center, University of Michigan, 24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive, Lobby M, Ann Arbor, MI 48106.
    Affiliations
    Professor of Anesthesiology, Medicine, Psychiatry and Psychology, and Associate Director, Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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  • Daniel J. Clauw
    Affiliations
    Professor of Anesthesiology, Medicine and Psychiatry, Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research, and Director, Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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      Abstract

      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.

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