Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome (AMPS)


Amplified musculoskeletal pain syndrome (AMPS) is an umbrella term for non-inflammatory musculoskeletal pain. Other names you might hear are: juvenile fibromyalgia syndrome, chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP), chronic widespread pain (CWP), reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), reflex neurovascular dystrophy (RND) or myofascial pain. AMPS is most commonly seen in childhood and adolescence, and most commonly affects pre-adolescent and adolescent girls, with an average age ranging from 11.5 to 15 years.

What Causes It?

The exact cause of AMPS is not well understood; however, the most current research suggest that this chronic noninflammatory pain condition is the result of malfunction or disordered response and over amplification of the pain signal by the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.

What Are Common Signs and Symptoms?

Common symptoms may include, but are not limited to, fatigue, sleep difficulties, headaches, abdominal pain, dizziness, arthralgias and tachycardia. Anxiety and/or depression may be common and should be considered in all newly diagnosed patients. Some neurologic symptoms may occur.

What Are Common Treatments?

The goal of AMPS treatment is to return the child to normal daily function by minimizing pain, restoring normal sleep and mood, and decreasing any negative impacts on health-related quality of life. Diagnosis of the primary and secondary causes is important and may involve other specialists, such as psychologists, and physical and occupational therapists. Treatment of AMPS consists of pain management without medications and may involve cognitive behavioral therapy, physical and occupational therapy, regular aerobic (cardio) exercise and focusing on stress reduction. Pain management recommendations may include gradually increasing exercise programs, regular daily activities in the form of functional aerobic training, desensitization for allodynia and psychotherapy.

Care/Management Tips

Once a diagnosis of AMPS has been made, participating in normal activities, attending therapy sessions and gradually returning to a normal schedule is recommended. Of note, it is important to recognize that the pain that your child is experiencing, while not dangerous, is very real.

Updated February 2023 by Lisa Carnago, FNP, and reviewed by the American College of Rheumatology Communications and Marketing Committee. This information is provided for general education only. Individuals should consult a qualified health care provider for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment of a medical or health condition.

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