Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a common chronic condition of widespread pain with causal mechanisms that are largely unknown. It is characterized by moderate to severe musculoskeletal pain and allodynia, but its pathogenesis appears confined to the nociceptive structures of the central nervous system. FMS is often triggered by negative environmental influences, especially if they occur in childhood. In a fetus, these environmental triggers may influence the development of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). Increasing evidence supports the comorbidity of psychological conditions including depression, panic disorders, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Recent evidence suggests that genetic factors may play a role in the pathogenesis of FMS. Central sensitization has long been associated with FMS pain. It describes enhanced excitability of dorsal horn neurons, which leads to transmission of altered nociceptive information to the brain. Understanding of pathogenetic pathways in FMS has advanced beyond observing patient responses to neurophysiologically targeted therapies and basic research.
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