Fibromyalgia and Overlapping Disorders: The Unifying Concept of Central Sensitivity Syndromes

Objectives: To discuss Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and overlapping conditions, e.g., irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, and chronic fatigue syndrome, within the concept of central sensitivity syndromes (CSS).

Methods: A critical overview of the literature and incorporation of the author's own views.

Results: The concept of CSS seems viable. It is based on mutual associations among the CSS conditions as well as the evidence for central sensitization (CS) among several CSS members. However, such evidence is weak or not available in other members at this time, requiring further studies. The biology of CSS is based on neuroendocrine aberrations, including central sensitization, that interact with psychosocial factors to cause a number of symptoms.

Conclusions: CSS is an important new concept that embraces the biopsychosocial model of disease. Further critical studies are warranted to fully test this concept. However, it seems to have important significance for new directions for research and patient care involving physician and patient education. Each patient, irrespective of diagnosis, should be treated as an individual considering both the biological and psychosocial contributions to his or her symptoms and suffering.

Source: Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, 2007 Jun;36(6):339-56, PMID:17350675, by Yunus MB, Section of Rheumatology, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Peoria, Illinois.

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