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Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2002 Aug;6(4):289-98.

Neuroendocrine abnormalities in fibromyalgia.

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  • 1Endocrine-Hypertension Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 221 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA. gadler@partners.org


Fibromyalgia is a disorder of unknown etiology characterized by chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain and symptoms such as fatigue, poor sleep, gastrointestinal complaints, and psychologic problems that are similar to those experienced by patients with hormone deficiencies. This review summarizes the available data on the neuroendocrine function in fibromyalgia, including data on hormone secretion, circadian phase, and autonomic nervous system function. Studies suggest that there may be lower activity of a number of hypothalamic-pituitary-peripheral gland axes and altered autonomic nervous system function in patients with fibromyalgia. These reductions in activity are mild to moderate and do not result from alterations in circadian rhythms. The reduced hormonal and autonomic responses appear to reflect an impairment in the hypothalamic or central nervous system response to stimuli rather than a primary defect at the level of the pituitary gland or the peripheral glands. A combination of multiple, mild impaired responses may lead to more profound physiologic and clinical consequences as compared with a defect in only one system, and could contribute to the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

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