Management of fibromyalgia, a distinct rheumatologic syndrome

D. R. Miller, R. D. Seifert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The pathophysiology and management of fibromyalgia, a unique nonarticular rheumatologic syndrome characterized by diffuse musculoskeletal aches and pains, stiffness, discrete tender points at typical soft-tissue sites, and a characteristic sleep disturbance, are reviewed. The prevalence and incidence of fibromyalgia are not known, but it is one of the most common conditions seen by rheumatologists (after degenerative joint disease and rheumatoid arthritis). It was previously thought to involve inflammation of fibrous intermuscular septa and is sometimes referred to in the literature as fibrositis. It is not primarily psychogenic, but psychological factors may contribute. The tender points are the key to diagnosis. Fibromyalgia may be classed as primary (when no underlying disease is present) or secondary (when an associated condition exists). The pathophysiology of fibromyalgia is unknown but appears to involve complex interactions of central neurotransmitters with a relationship to pain perception, mood, and sleep. Treatment is empiric; non-drug treatment involving education, relaxation, and increased physical activity is essential. Few controlled trials of drug therapy have been conducted. Analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, phenothiazines, tricyclic antidepressants, and the tricyclic antidepressants, and the tricyclic muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine have been used; low doses of amitriptyline or cyclobenzaprine provide increased control of pain and mood. To the patient with fibromyalgia, establishment of a firm diagnosis, reassurance, and participation in management of the syndrome are important. Pharmacists should be aware of this syndrome so that they can advise on appropriate therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)778-786
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Pharmacy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 1987


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