There has been a dramatic increase in our understanding of fibromyalgia throughout the past 14 years since the publication of the 1990 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria. Before 1990, and for most of the 20th century, fibromyalgia was considered to be predominantly a muscle disorder; now the critical abnormality is described as "central sensitization." However, central sensitization has to have an initial genesis and nociceptive stimuli from painful foci in muscle are increasingly recognized as being relevant to the development of fibromyalgia. Clinicians also recognize an association between the initiation of fibromyalgia and chronic psychologic stressors and inflammatory disorders. It has been more difficult to understand how two such apparently diverse events could affect central pain physiology. However, some clues are emerging from the role of diverse stimuli in activating glial cells and the role of disordered cytokine networks. Some predictions about future developments in fibromyalgia are ventured based on the current state of knowledge.
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