"The pain of fibromyalgia is not occurring because of some injury or inflammation of the muscles or joints," said Dr. Daniel Clauw, a fibromyalgia researcher and director of the Center for the Advancement of Clinical Research at the University of Michigan. "There is something wrong with the way the central nervous system is processing pain from the peripheral tissues. It's over-amplifying the pain."
Although antidepressants that increase just serotonin have been a disappointment in treating fibromyalgia, a new class of drugs may provide better pain relief by boosting both serotonin and norepinephrine. The pain and depression of fibromyalgia are caused by abnormal levels of these neurotransmitters, doctors now believe, not simply by the inability to live life normally.
"These enigmatic chronic conditions are all probably central pain syndromes," he said. "People were taught that there is one kind of pain, a pain that occurs in the area of the body where people are experiencing pain. But this notion of central pain, that's where we really need to move."