Why are people with fibromyalgia more sensitive to pain than other people?

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain state where changes in the way the brain recognizes pain signals that travel through the spinal cord cause an enhancement in pain recognition. Pain experienced in the muscles (correct spelling: muscles) may actually be the end result of the brain's interpretation of these spinal cord signals. Hence the increased pain on movement and the aggravation of FM symptoms by even simple exertion.

Over the last few years a number of important research discoveries have started to clarify the enigma of chronic pain. Many of these new findings have a special relevance to the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. The cardinal symptom of FM is widespread body pain. The cardinal finding is the presence of focal areas of hyperalgesia, the tender points. Tender points imply that the person has a local area of reduced pain threshold, suggesting a peripheral pathology. In general, tender points occur at muscle tendon junctions, a site where mechanical forces are most likely to cause muscle micro-injuries. Many -- but not all -- people with FM have tender skin and an overall reduction in pain threshold. These latter observations suggest that some people with FM have a generalized pain amplification state. There has been a recent plethora of experimental studies apposite to the pathophysiological basis of both the peripheral and central aspects of pain.

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