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Fibromyalgia and chronic pain: definition

According to an Orientation Report published in July 2010 by the High Authority for Health in France (HAS), "fibromyalgia syndrome or fibromyalgia is characterized by persistent diffuse pain having an effect on functional abilities, reducing them in a variable way by person and over time. Chronic pain is the main symptom. It is singular: diffuse, persistent, variable, depending on the moment it can sometimes take the form of hyperalgesia (increased suffering in response to weak painful stimuli) or allodynia (painful sensitivity to simple touch). » (1)

The main symptom of fibromyalgia is the occurrence  chronic pain with the following characteristics given by the HAS: "The pain, which is always widespread and diffuse, can begin in the neck and shoulders, then spread to the rest of the body, in particular the back, chest, arms and to the legs. It is permanent but aggravated by effort, cold, humidity, emotions and lack of sleep, and is accompanied by morning stiffness. (1)


The distinction between joint and muscle pain is all the more difficult as patients have the impression of swelling of the painful areas and paresthesias (defined as a disturbance of sensitivity resulting in tingling or burning sensations) of the extremities in the absence of any objective sign of articular or neurological damage”. (1)

Other symptoms...

Still according to this same body, "People who have fibromyalgia syndrome very frequently suffer from chronic fatigue and sleep disturbances, but also from cognitive disorders, emotional disturbances, as we have seen in populations of painful patients chronicles. »

In terms of symptoms, the HAS adds “It seems that the pain is constant, while the other symptoms can be different from one patient to another and change over time. This is what the results of the surveys carried out in the context of French care tend to show: the symptoms associated with chronic pain only concerned a part of the patients” (1)

Social isolation

All the symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome, namely pain, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, attention problems and fatigue, lead to difficulties in activities of daily living. Family and social repercussions - with difficulties in maintaining employment, withdrawal, isolation and reduced quality of life - have been reported by patients, both in the French literature and in patients interviewed in the framework of this report.

Chronic pain: pain - disease

When the pain becomes chronic (beyond three to six months), it becomes a disease in itself with various mechanisms (neurophysiological, psychological, emotional, etc.) and specific behavioral phenomena.


This pain is devastating, harmful and leads to depression. It is useless pain with no biological function, such as pain during migraine, cancer, AIDS, etc. (2)

The Canadian Psychological Association defines chronic pain as follows: “Chronic pain is that which does not leave you. When pain lasts for a period of six months or beyond the normal healing time, it is said to be chronic” (2)

Another, more medical definition is given by Dr. Salter and his team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada:


“Pain harms millions of people around the world and has significant negative consequences on the quality of life. When left untreated, pain is the greatest cause of life-threatening disability. Acute pain is a normal sensation triggered by the nervous system to warn the body of injury. On the other hand, chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond the normal healing time of an injury or illness, in some cases it even occurs “for no reason”. This type of pain has no helpful or protective role” (3).

(1) (HAS), High Authority for Health. [Online] July 2010.

(2) / [Online]

(3)/ [Online]

(4) Benezech, Jean-Pierre. Chronic pain: a hidden face of resilience. s.l.: Sauramps Medical, 2005.

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