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Pain Research and Treatment
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 585419, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/585419
Review Article

Neurobiology Underlying Fibromyalgia Symptoms

1Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain, McGill University, 3640 University Street, Room M19, Montreal, QC, Canada H2A 1C1
2Department of Neurology & Neurosurgery, McGill University, 3640 University Street, Room M19, Montreal, QC, Canada H2A 1C1
3Department of Anesthesia, McGill University, 3640 University Street, Room M19, Montreal, QC, Canada H2A 1C1
4Center for Neurosensory Disorders, University of North Carolina, CB No. 7280, 3330 Thurston Building, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA

Received 27 April 2011; Accepted 23 August 2011

Academic Editor: Muhammad B. Yunus

Copyright © 2012 Marta Ceko et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic widespread pain, clinical symptoms that include cognitive and sleep disturbances, and other abnormalities such as increased sensitivity to painful stimuli, increased sensitivity to multiple sensory modalities, and altered pain modulatory mechanisms. Here we relate experimental findings of fibromyalgia symptoms to anatomical and functional brain changes. Neuroimaging studies show augmented sensory processing in pain-related areas, which, together with gray matter decreases and neurochemical abnormalities in areas related to pain modulation, supports the psychophysical evidence of altered pain perception and inhibition. Gray matter decreases in areas related to emotional decision making and working memory suggest that cognitive disturbances could be related to brain alterations. Altered levels of neurotransmitters involved in sleep regulation link disordered sleep to neurochemical abnormalities. Thus, current evidence supports the view that at least some fibromyalgia symptoms are associated with brain dysfunctions or alterations, giving the long-held “it is all in your head” view of the disorder a new meaning.