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Pain Research and Management
Volume 7 (2002), Issue 2, Pages 81-92

Central Hyperexcitability in Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: A Conceptual Breakthrough with Multiple Clinical Implications

Jan Lidbeck

Pain Management Clinic, Department of Anaesthesiology, Hospital of Helsingborg, Helsingborg, Sweden

Received 7 May 2001; Accepted 9 October 2001

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. 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.


Recent investigations of dysfunctional pain processing in the central nervous system have contributed much knowledge about the development of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Many common chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes - including regional myofascial pain syndromes, whiplash pain syndromes, refractory work-related neck-shoulder pain, certain types of chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia and others - may essentially be explained by abnormalities in central pain modulation. The growing awareness of dysfunctional central pain modulation may be a conceptual breakthrough leading to a better understanding of common chronic pain disorders. A new paradigm will have multiple clinical implications, including re-evaluation of clinical practice routines and rehabilitation methods, and will focus on controversial issues of medicolegal concern. The concept of dysfunctional central pain processing will also necessitate a mechanism-based classification of pain for the selection of individual treatment and rehabilitation programs for subgroups of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain due to different pathophysiological mechanisms.