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Fibromyalgia: mechanisms and management

Geoffrey O Littlejohn, Emma Guymer

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Abstract

Fibromyalgia is chronic pain syndrome characterised by changes in biochemical functions within the pain system. Treatment includes education about the condition, exercises and psychological strategies, as well as pain-control medication.

Key Points

  • The key clinical elements of fibromyalgia are the presence of widespread chronic pain and widespread abnormal tenderness to gentle pressure.
  • Fibromyalgia is due to abnormal sensitivity within the pain-related nervous system.
  • Six or more abnormally tender sites, combined with widespread pain, will allow a diagnosis of fibromyalgia to be made.
  • Fibromyalgia often co-exists with other conditions and it may have similar presenting symptoms to many other disorders.
  • The basic management platform of education, exercise and psychological strategies must be initiated in all patients with fibromyalgia.
  • Analgesics, antidepressants and antiepileptics have been shown to be effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

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