Research supporting the neurological basis for fibromyalgia, a chronic central nervous system (CNS) disorder, has been presented at the American Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting.

Daniel Clauw, MD, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan, reported that fibromyalgia pain stems more from the brain and spinal cord than other areas where the patient may experience peripheral pain. Fibromyalgia is thought to be related to disturbances in how the brain processes pain and other sensory information. Because fibromyalgia pain comes from CNS origins, treatments with opioids or other narcotic analgesics are not typically effective because they do not reduce neurotransmitter activity in the brain.

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Dr. Clauw concluded clinicians should suspect fibromyalgia in patients with multifocal pain not fully explained by injury or inflammation. Also, he recommended incorporating other pharmacological treatments such as gabapentinoids, tricyclics, and serotonin reuptake inhibitors, as well as nonpharmacological options like cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise, and stress reduction in treating fibromyalgia.

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